The Roman Resurrection Road – Part 2

This blog is part of a series of blogs concerning the Resurrection realities found in the book of Romans. To read the intro to this series, go here. 

The first stop we approach on the Roman Resurrection Road happens early in the text. Paul wastes no time in proclaiming Christ’s divinity and victory over death, encapsulating the core of the gospel in just a few short verses. Herein lies the vindication of the Son of God, Jesus.

1 Paul, a bond-servant of Christ Jesus, called as an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God,

2 which He promised beforehand through His prophets in the holy Scriptures,

3 concerning His Son, who was born of a descendant of David according to the flesh,

4 who was declared the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead, according to the Spirit of holiness, Jesus Christ our Lord,

Romans 1:1–4 — New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update (NASB95)

“…set apart for the gospel of God,”

Paul makes it clear right off the bat what the Gospel really is, the good news concerning Jesus. It is not about a new set of moral standards or a better system but about the Person of Jesus. A gospel that isn’t centered around Jesus as the Messiah and Son of God who rose from the dead is no gospel at all. 

“2 which He promised beforehand through His prophets in the holy Scriptures,”

So what is the “which” that was promised beforehand? The gospel! We tend to compartmentalize the “gospel” as the information contained in the gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John), and yet the Word says here that God promised the good news, the gospel, beforehand through His prophets in the Holy Scriptures.

This means that the gospel thread runs through the Old Testament, that God was speaking the good news about His Son through the Scriptures.

That’s why Jesus could say in John 5:39:

“39 [i]You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me;

And just a few verses later in 46 and 47:

“46 For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me, for he wrote about Me. 47 But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words?”

Galatians 3 features, to me, one of the most staggering statements regarding this concept:

“8 The Scripture, foreseeing that God [l]would justify the [m]Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “All the nations will be blessed in you.”

Galatians 3:8

That’ll mess with your head. The gospel message was preached long before the gospels were written, and it all came to pass in the person of Jesus. The Father effectively “called His shot” in Jesus, knowing that His Word would accomplish what it (or He) was sent to do. This God of ours tells us plainly that one of His distinct characteristics is the ability to tell you the future before it happens, the end from the beginning.

Isaiah 46:9-10 New Living Translation (NLT)“Remember the things I have done in the past. For I alone am God! I am God, and there is none like me. Only I can tell you the future before it even happens. Everything I plan will come to pass, for I do whatever I wish.”

The Father truly called His shot in the Person of Jesus. There are at least 332 distinct prophecies regarding the Messiah in the Scriptures that Jesus fulfilled. The statistical probability of that happening is so mind-boggling it makes me never want to do math again.

Not only this, but Jesus Himself called His shot with the resurrection multiple times in His earthly ministry, but no one seemed to understand until it happened. 

“30 From there they went out and began to go through Galilee, and He did not want anyone to know about it. 31 For He was teaching His disciples and telling them, “The Son of Man is to be [a]delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill Him; and when He has been killed, He will rise three days later.” 32 But they [b]did not understand this statement, and they were afraid to ask Him.” Mark 9:30-32

Vindication is “proof that someone or something is right, reasonable, or justified.” In order for the resurrection to prove something, there had to be some sort of claim about it before it happened. Paul makes it clear that the gospel, everything concerning the Son of God, especially His resurrection, was promised beforehand. He gives special mention to one other facet of Christ’s identity before the crescendo into the resurrection statement:

“3 concerning His Son, who was born of a descendant of David according to the flesh,

In one seemingly simple statement, we find two crucial truths. It is a fact that Jesus was in the lineage of David. Why does that matter? The Messiah was to come through David’s line, according to the scriptures (2 Sam 7:12-16, Psalm 89:28-38, 1 Chronicles 17:11-14, 22:9-10, 28:6-7).

In other words, Jesus’ claim as Messiah could not be denied on the grounds of His genealogy. He met that qualification.

So what’s the other crucial truth? That He was born a descendant of David according to the flesh. Call me crazy, but that means He was actually born. As a man. In the flesh. Early heresies sought to deny that Jesus ever actually had a human body, that He appeared more as a mirage, as God wouldn’t stoop that low and actually wear a body. Yet that is the very beauty of the incarnation; the brilliance of the hypostatic union – that Jesus was truly God AND truly man.

Consider the words of a line from the popular Christmas hymn, “Hark! the Harold Angels Sing”:

“Veiled in flesh, the Godhead see; Hail, the incarnate Deity!”

Here we finally hit the first resurrection statement in the book of Romans:

“4 who was declared the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead, according to the Spirit of holiness, Jesus Christ our Lord,”

In other words, the resurrection authenticated Jesus’ ministry and proved He was who He and the Father said He was! He took on the “weakness” of man according to His natural birth in David’s line. Leading up to His death, He experienced the very brink of human weakness in Gethsemane and Golgotha. Yet by the Glory of God, He rose with the power over sin, death, and hell. He was revealed as the Son of God to the people in His baptism, and He was revealed to be the Son of God with Power in His resurrection!

He was David’s son according to the flesh, yet He was God’s Son according to the Holy Spirit, God Himself. (Notice the Trinity sighting here…)

In fact, Paul’s very first message once He was converted went a little something like this:
“And straightway he preached Christ in the synagogues, that He is the Son of God (Acts 9:20)

What does this mean for you?

You can trust every single word of Jesus because everything He said was vindicated in the Resurrection. Only God can tell you the end from the beginning. This Jesus did because He is God. You can rest assured that the One we worship is the Messiah, the Son of God, the Incarnate Deity. 

Many voices in this day seek to whittle away at the resurrection because they know if they are forced to come to grips with the resurrection truly happening, they will be forced to admit that He really is who He says He is.

The resurrection is God’s stamp of authenticity on the claims and ministry of Jesus. You can trust Him wholeheartedly because He is who He says He is, and He’ll do what He says He’ll do!