The following article was originally from Pastor Wolfmueller of Hope Lutheran Church
Jesus “was delivered up for our offenses, and was raised again for our justification.” [Romans 4:25, KJV]
With these words St Paul declares the “why” of the resurrection, the purpose of Easter: Jesus was raised for our justification. But what does this mean?
“Justification” means to declare righteous and holy, or to be forgiven of all sin. St Paul, then, is saying that Jesus was raised to forgive our sin. Jesus, in His death and in His resurrection is taking our place, the place of all mankind. Just as Jesus' condemnation is our condemnation and His death is our death, so Jesus' coming out of the grave is our life and salvation, our forgiveness.
This is one of the favorite topics of C.F.W. Walther, the first pastor and synodical president of the Missouri Synod. In an Easter Sermon preached in 1846, he says:
Jesus, when He was raised from the dead, was absolved for all sin, but since it was not for Himself but for all people that Christ died, who was it really that was set free, who was it really that was absolved when Jesus rose from the dead? It was all people! Just as all Israel triumphed when David defeated Goliath, so all humanity triumphed when Jesus defeated sin, death and Hell. And so we hear Paul saying in his second epistle to the Corinthians, "We are convinced that one has died for all; therefore all have died." And again in his epistle to the Romans, "Then as one man’s trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one man’s act of righteousness leads to acquittal and life for all men." Just as Christ’s condemnation was the condemnation of all mankind, Christ’s death the death of all mankind, Christ’s payment the payment for all mankind, even so Christ’s life is now the life of all mankind, His acquittal the acquittal of all mankind, His justification the justification of all mankind, His absolution the absolution of all mankind.
(C. F. W. Walther, Christ's Resurrection-Your Absolution, Quoted from the essay Walther, Law and Gospel and the State of the Church Today by Rev. Daniel Preus)
Try as I might, there is no saying this better or more clearly than Pastor Walther does here. These words are worthy of careful thought and meditation.
First, consider the comparison between Jesus and King David. Just as all of the people of Israel won victory when David slew Goliath, so all the people of the world won the victory when Jesus overcame sin, death, the devil and Hell. Jesus is the conqueror who mounts in triumph and rides forth from the gloom of death into life eternal, and we ride with Him, for He has taken upon Himself our humanity that He might redeem us and deliver us.
Second, Walther quotes Paul, “For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.” [Romans 5:19] Through the sin of one man, Adam, the darkness and dread of sin and death plunged upon the entire human race. But, through the life of one man, Jesus Christ, the light of life and forgiveness shone upon the entire human race. “For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.” [1 Corinthians 15:21,22]
What does it mean that Jesus was “raised for our Justification”? It means that Jesus was on the cross suffering the wrath of God which we deserved, winning the forgiveness of all of our sins, all so that we could share in His resurrection and eternal life and enjoy the benefits of His cross: life, salvation, and the forgiveness of sins.
The Lord's Blessings in Christ,