A Bible verse that contains a great deal of comfort but one that is not that well-known is Romans 4:25. Talking about Jesus it says, “Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised to life again for our justification.” It consists of two parallel parts which could be formatted like this:
“Who was delivered for our offences,
and was raised to life again for our justification.”
Most people quickly understand the first half. Jesus was delivered to death, not because of anything he had done, but because of what we had done. He was delivered for our offences, our sins. As John wrote, “He is the propitiation for sins; not only for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.” (1 John 2:2)
But it has been my experience that people don’t as quickly see the point of the second half of this verse. Just as Jesus was delivered because of our sins, so also he was raised for, or because, of our justification. Just as our sins were the cause of his death, so our justification was the cause of his resurrection. That statement gives us tremendous comfort – that statement sheds a wonderful new light on Easter.
This is so comforting because justification is nothing other than a verdict of acquittal. Paul borrowed this term from the courtroom. It was the term used whenever a judge formally pronounced a “not guilty” verdict. By pronouncing that verdict, the judge was justifying the defendant. He was not making him just, he was declaring him just. Justification refers to God declaring us “not guilty”.
The exciting thing this verse brings out is how God’s verdict of us is tied to Easter. Note the cause and effect. It’s not that because Jesus rose from the dead, we are justified. No, it is the other way around. Because God justified us acquitted us, Jesus could rise from the dead. Therefore Easter is God’s wonderful proof that we have already been justified, acquitted, in Christ. Our justification is a past event, not a future one.
This shows just how completely Jesus took responsibility for our sins. He became so identified with our sins that Paul could write, “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin.” (2 Corinthians 5:21) But this also shows how completely his payment for our sins becomes our payment for our sins. God looked on it so thoroughly as our payment that, on the basis of Jesus’ sacrifice, God justified us, acquitted us way back then – a point he dramatically makes by raising Jesus from the dead.
Thus Easter reassures us that nothing is left for us to do in order o be justified by God. Jesus has done it all! May you always treasure the fact that he “was raised to life again for our justification.”