“But Peter, standing with the eleven, lifted up his voice and addressed them: … “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a Man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through Him in your midst, as you yourselves know—this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. God raised Him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for Him to be held by it. For David … foresaw and spoke about the resurrection of the Christ, that He was not abandoned to Hades, nor did His flesh see corruption. This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses.” (Acts 2:14a, 22-25a, 32 ESV)
Peter uses an interesting word to describe the reason why Jesus rose from the dead. He says, “It was not possible for Jesus to be held by death.” That sounds really strange! Most people would describe the resurrection as impossible. But for Peter, it’s the other way around. For Jesus to stay dead would be impossible. His resurrection is completely expected.
And why is that? It’s because death is related to sin. God tells us that “sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned” (Romans 5:12b ESV). Ever since the time of Adam and Eve, human beings have rebelled against God. We are broken people, living in a broken world contaminated by evil. And one of the consequences of this is death.
So what about Jesus? Is He a sinner? No, absolutely not. According to His human nature, Jesus is what God intended all of us to be—holy, healthy, complete, and at peace. There is nothing in Jesus that is fighting with God the Father, and there is nothing in Jesus that is fighting with any other part of His nature. We can’t say that, can we? Peace is no longer normal for us. But it is for Jesus.
Death cannot hold Jesus any longer than He volunteers to stay under its power. And volunteering is exactly what He did. In order to save us, Jesus took our sin and brokenness upon Himself. As Isaiah says, “Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows, He was pierced for our transgressions; He was crushed for our iniquities; upon Him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with His wounds we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:4-6 ESV).
When Jesus borrowed our sin, He also borrowed our death. He tasted death on behalf of all of us. And when He was finished with death, He rose from the dead, never to die again. Death has no power over Him. And because Jesus shares His victory with us, death has no power over us either. One day Jesus will raise all of us from the dead, body and soul together. And we will celebrate and be glad.
We Pray: Dear Lord, I’m glad You rose from the dead. I look forward to the day You raise me also. Amen.
This Daily Devotion was written by Dr. Kari Vo.
Originally published in The Lutheran Hour on May 31, 2023
Used by permission from International Lutheran Laymen’s League, all rights reserved
1. What other things besides death have no power over Jesus?
2. Why do you think so?
3. If Jesus has all the power, what does that mean for you when you face trouble?