Identification is the word that I've chosen to describe as simply and as comprehensively as possible, all that Jesus did through His death on the cross. To identify means to make yourself one with someone else. And on the cross, for the sake of our deliverance, for delivering us from all the consequences of sin, Jesus made Himself one with us. In Him was poured out and summed up all the evil inheritance that sin had brought upon an entire Adamic race.
We are now going to deal with the opposite side of the coin, the other half of our identification with Jesus in all that followed His death. We will start by reading 1 Corinthians chapter 15:1‑4.
“Now, brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel, you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. [Now Paul sums up the gospel.] For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures....” (NIV)
That's the essence of the gospel. It centers all in Christ and what He did and it contains three successive statements about Christ. Christ died; He was buried and He was raised on the third day.
It says of the third statement, "He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures." In Paul's time and context, "according to the Scriptures" meant "according to the Old Testament." We may ask ourselves, "Where does it say in the Old Testament that Jesus would be raised on the third day?" I wonder if you have ever considered that question. It puzzled me for many years, but God, I believe, showed me the answer.
First of all, Jesus said that He would be like Jonah. And as Jonah was three days in the belly of the fish, so He would be three days in the belly of the earth. That's a kind of pictorial presentation of the truth that Jesus would be raised on the third day. But the only place I know in the Old Testament where it's specifically stated, is in the prophet Hosea chapter 6, verses 1 and 2 ‑ this is what it says:
"Come, let us return to the Lord. For He has torn us, but He will heal us; He has wounded us, but He will bandage us. He will revive us after two days; He will raise us up on the third day that we may live before Him." (NASB)
There's a very clear statement. What has been killed will be revived and it will happen after two days ‑ it will happen on the third day. What I want to emphasize is that all of it is applied to us, not just to Him. It doesn't say that He will raise Him up, but that He will raise us up. Do you get the point? It's identification. Jesus was identified with us in our sin and in His death for our sin. As we accept that identification and we identify ourselves with Him in death and we say like Paul, "I am crucified with Christ," then the way is open for us to be identified with Jesus in all that follows. In His burial, his resurrection and even in His ascension.
Father, thank You that not only Jesus was identified with all my pain, sin and suffering, but that I may now be identified with Jesus in His death and resurrection. Thank You that I may believe that, one day, I will be revived, resurrected, just as Jesus. Lord, help we to already now live before You, as one day I will see You face to face! Praise Your Name!