“For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures.” (1 Corinthians 15:3)
First, let’s get one thing straight: God cannot die. He cannot die, as we die, because He does not live as we live. He never was, or will be; He only is. It’s our body and soul that make us alive; and God has neither. God is a Spirit (Jno. 4:24). But, we know, God, in His great love and wisdom, chose to become a man. John 3:16 says, “God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son…” Not as I once heard the text rendered, “his one and only Son.” The Bible speaks over and over of God’s “sons”; but there was only One that entered this world with the Seed of God in the womb of a woman. No, this was a sinless God, allowing Himself to be “begotten” of a sinful woman. This was unheard of.
J.I. Packer has made the observation that the miracle of Easter is not the Resurrection; of course, Jesus Christ, who said of himself, “…I am the life,” would rise from the dead. How could He not? The miracle is that He died in the first place. It would have been impossible without a human body. All human bodies die, and as long as long as Jesus was in that body, He was susceptible to hunger, thirst, fatigue, sickness, pain…and death. God, who cannot die, performed the greatest of all miracles, when He put Himself in the precarious, death-driven position of humanity, in order to redeem those He loved.
For you and I, in our own human bodies, death is also a given. Barring Christ’s return, it’s inevitable; and the miracle for us will be when we are raised with a new body and a new kind of life, like the one that Jesus enjoyed those forty days on earth, after His resurrection. As children of God, we will experience the Resurrection of the Man, Christ Jesus. “For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection” (Rom. 6:5).
He lived so that He could die; He died so that we could live; and He rose so that we could be raised. As Thomas Watson said, “We are more sure to rise out of graves than out of our beds!”
It has been (rightly) said that we should look past the Babe in the manger to the Cross and the Empty Tomb; but I would submit, when we look at the Cross and the Empty Tomb, we should remember the Babe in the manger, for without that miraculous birth, all the rest would be an empty dream.