We know from Scripture that Jesus was raised from the dead on the third day after His crucifixion. Jesus died and Jesus was raised. But what power did the raising? How was this done? We know that Jesus was raised, but who raised Him?
“I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine. As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep. And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd. Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again. No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father” (John 10:14–18).
Summary of the Text:
Jesus identifies Himself as the good shepherd. Shepherding here, which is to say the good shepherding here, is a function of a certain kind of knowledge. Jesus says that He knows His own, and that His own know Him (v. 14). He also says that this knowledge between shepherd and sheep is analogous to the knowledge the Father has of Him, and the knowledge that He has of the Father (v. 15). Right after He says that He and the Father know one another, He adds that He lays down His life for the sheep (v. 15). In addition to the flock in His current fold, Jesus tells us that He has other sheep that are not of “this fold.” This is probably a reference to the inclusion of the Gentiles (v. 16). He will bring them in, and they will heed His voice as well. When that happens, there will be one flock (Christian) and one shepherd (Christ).
This is why the Father loves Him—because He lays down His life in order that He might take it up again (v. 17). Jesus then says something astonishing. Do not be deceived by the soldiers, the rigged trial, the accusers, the men with whips, and the men who nailed Him to the cross. Jesus says “no one takes it from me” (v. 18). Jesus says that He surrenders His life of His own accord. He was given authority to lay down His life, and He was given corresponding authority to take it up again (v. 18). This was the charge He received from His Father. As Jesus was dragged from one tribunal to another, He remained in complete and total control.
In Scripture, we never find the persons of the Trinity pulling in opposite directions. We are not Unitarians, and we are not tri-theistic polytheists. We are Trinitarian monotheists, not to mention monotheistic Trinitarians, which means that the new Israel always needs to hear, just as the old Israel did, that the Lord our God is one Lord (Deut. 6:4). We believe in one God, three persons. And we also believe that all of God does everything that God does, albeit in different ways. The persons of the Trinity are everlastingly distinct, and relate to God’s actions differently, but are not ever at cross-purposes. Take the sheep in our text—the Father elects, the Son redeems, and the Spirit quickens. But they are never trying to save different groups of people.
The Work of the Father:
The same thing is true when we consider the resurrection of Jesus. Who raised Jesus from the dead? The Bible says that the Father did. “The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree” (Acts 5:30).
And just as Abraham believed in God, so also we believe in God. Which God do we believe in? We believe in the Father. “But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead” (Rom. 4:24).
The Work of the Spirit:
But God the Father works through agency of His Spirit. When God created the world, the Spirit of God hovered over the face of the deep. In the same way, when the Father raised Jesus He did so in the power of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit of God hovered over the face of the garden where they had laid Him.
“But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you” (Rom. 8:11). God does what He does in us in a way that is analogous to the way He raised Christ from the dead, which is to say, through the power of the Spirit.
The Work of the Son:
But the Son Himself was not passive in this glorious event. In addition to our text, we also have statements like this one: “Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up” (John 2:19).
In our text, Jesus describes His death as an authoritative act on His part. Jesus had been given authority (by the Father) to lay down His life (John 10:18). Not only that, He had been given authority to take it up again (John 10:18).
Theologians sometimes speak of the active obedience of Christ and the passive obedience of Christ. All the obedience of Christ is imputed to us, both the obedience of His perfect life and the obedience involved in His perfect death. But we need to be careful not to misunderstand this because we have not understood the origins of the word passive. The word passive refers to obedience of Jesus in His suffering (His passion), not to Jesus doing nothing, or being somehow spiritually inert. When Jesus was dying, bleeding, writhing . . . He was conquering, and He was doing so with authority. His body was stone cold dead with authority. And when the appointed time for the resurrection of the entire cosmos to begin, Jesus reached out and took up His life again.
Just before He brought back Lazarus from the dead, Jesus groaned deeply in His Spirit (John 11:33). Imagine what it was like just before He reached out in order to lift this dead world back into the land of the living. Returning to the text in Romans 8:11, we see that the resurrection of Jesus and the resurrection of all things are all of a piece. “But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you” (Rom. 8:11).
For Our Justification:
Why did He do this? The text says that He laid down His life “for the sheep” (v. 15). Jesus did not die an indiscriminate death. He did not die with nebulous intentions. He did not die for “no one in particular.” He died for sheep that He knew. Jesus died for names. And this personalized attention did not cease with that. Jesus was raised for the same people He died for. He died so that you might be forgiven, and He was raised so that you might be justified. And when I point to the congregation like this, do you ever wonder if I am pointing at you personally? Well, yes, I am. “Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification” (Rom. 4:25).
And so because of what Jesus did, we rejoice in who He is. “And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead” (Rom. 1:4).