The resurrection of Jesus Christ is a glorious sermon that was preached by God the Father. When the Father said that He was well-pleased with the Son at His baptism that declaration was not all the Father had to say. In the resurrection, He now declares the entire truth, holding back nothing. In the gospels, Jesus told the demons to keep their knowledge of who He was to themselves, but now we are told to tell every last creature about it. Why the change? Now that the Father has declared His message fully, we may do so also. Not only may we do so, we must do so.
“And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead . . .” (Rom. 1:4).
Summary of the Text
For many Christian apologists, the resurrection is something which needs to be proved. But in the Scriptures, the resurrection is itself a proof. For example, God has proven that Jesus will judge the whole world, and He proven this by raising Him from the dead (Acts 17:31). In our text here, the resurrection is God’s declaration of Christ’s identity—He is declared to be the Son of God by this great event. But this declaration is not a mere datum in theology. The power that raised Jesus from the grave is a power that attends the ongoing declaration of Christ’s person and work. “And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places” (Eph. 1:19-20). The power at work in the resurrection is not a power or authority that was cordoned off in the first century. Neither is it a power limited to Christ’s grave site. Christ’s life is everlasting and eternal, as is the declaration of that life. This includes the potency of His life in us, and particularly in the ways we echo the great declaration of the Father. We are privileged to declare the gospel in and through everything, but particularly through fatherhood.
Life and Power
The resurrection means that Jesus has life—the kind of life that rose from death. And this means in its turn that this is a potent life. All life is potent, actually, but we take things for granted so easily that it requires a drastic elevation of life from non-life to enable us to see it clearly. God the Father gave life to the Son, such that He would see the travail of His soul and be satisfied (Is. 53:11), and even though He was bruised in death, He would be able to see His seed flourishing (Is. 53:10). Jesus has life and power, but He also models for us how this is to be obtained. Life is given to those who have died, and power is given to those who have died in humility. There is no by-passing the cross in order to obtain the crown more readily. The grave is a place of corruption, but for those who have risen, it may be considered a detox center, now left behind.
So the resurrection shows us what God the Father is up to. The barren woman is the New Jerusalem, the Christian Church, the bride of Christ (Gal. 4:26-27). And we Christians are the children of promise. This is talking about us.
Sing, O barren, thou that didst not bear; Break forth into singing, and cry aloud, thou that didst not travail with child: For more are the children of the desolate than the children of the married wife, saith the Lord. Enlarge the place of thy tent, and let them stretch forth the curtains of thine habitations: Spare not, lengthen thy cords, and strengthen thy stakes; For thou shalt break forth on the right hand and on the left; And thy seed shall inherit the Gentiles, and make the desolate cities to be inhabited” (Is. 54:1-3).
Couple this with the charge that Paul gives to Christian fathers (Eph. 6:4). We are to bring our children up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. And why? The answer is because we and they are the children of promise.
The Barrenness Bane
Christian men should love fruitfulness. Godly men should honor and glorify their wives. The glory of an apple tree is the fruit of it. The glory of a man is his wife, and an important part of this glory is the grace she has been given—the grace of fruitfulness. A man cannot just “declare” himself a father. If fatherhood is a crown, a woman must be the one to place it there.
A man by himself is barren. A man with another man is barren. A man who pays for abortions is barren. A man who is an eco-freak is barren. A man who impregnates and then leaves (in various ways) is barren. Barren souls, barren minds, barren hearts are all reflections of an anti-gospel. Fruitfulness is a blessing (Gen. 9:1,7; Lev. 26:9; Dt. 28:2-6; Ps. 127; Ps. 128). But this is not an automatic blessing for lazy fathers. A son who sleeps through harvest is an embarrassment to his parents (Prov. 10:5). Having five sons doing that is not an improvement. And so when I said a moment ago that a Christian man should love fruitfulness, it should be noted that this is not the same thing as being opinionated about it.
Just as fatherhood is a gift of grace, so widespread cultural barrenness (instigated and led by rebellious men who ought to be fathers), is a judgment from God. It is not just something for which there will be later judgment, self- inflicted barrenness is itself a judgment on men (Rom. 1:18, 26; Prov. 22:14; Eze. 20:26).
The call is therefore for Christian fathers who will sacrificially die. This is not because God wants you dead and gone, but rather because God wants you really alive. When we say as Christians (as we often do) that we are to die to ourselves, this is just another way of saying that we are to die to death. And when you die to death, the result in God’s blessing in life.
And when you die, you are not establishing the gospel (as Jesus did when He died). When husbands are told to give up their lives for their wives, this is not a reduplication of that atonement. But it is a sermon preached about that atonement, and not only so, it is a powerful sermon. And so fathers, teach with authority, and not as the scribes.