by Rev. Travis Berg

The resurrection is the foundation of the Christian faith. This teaching is one of the fundamental articles of the faith. If you do not believe it, you are not a Christian. St. Paul wrote, “And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins!”[1]

Indeed, the Lutheran Confessions are peppered with references to our Lord’s resurrection. But, surprisingly, not much is written defending or explaining Christ’s resurrection. It is assumed. The atoning sacrifice of Christ on the cross receives the spotlight, since the article of justification was at stake.

However, there is one beautiful passage concerning Christ’s resurrection for us. The Formula of Concord, Epitome VIII, reads: “We also believe, teach, and confess that it was not a mere man who suffered, died, was buried, descended to hell, rose from the dead, ascended into heaven, and was raised to God’s majesty and almighty power for us. But it was a man whose human nature has such a profound, indescribable union and communion with God’s Son that it is one person with Him.”[2]

The German words describing this union and communion are “tiefe,” and “unaussprechliche.[3] “Tiefe” can mean “deep” or “profound.” The incarnation cannot be grasped by human reason. It is a profound teaching which can only be taught to us by God Himself. But the next word takes it even further. The word “unaussprechliche” means “ineffable, unspeakable, inexpressible.” The incarnation cannot be explained by diagrams or by formulas. Human words fail when it comes to speaking comprehensively and exhaustively concerning the Word made flesh.

Why do we speak of the incarnation in conjunction with Christ’s resurrection? During the Easter season, it is incredibly comforting for us Christians to hear that God not only died for us, but also rose for our justification.  The Psalmist says; “Truly no man can ransom another, or give to God the price of his life.”[4] If the divine and human natures do not commune with one another in the person of Christ, then only a man died and rose. A mere man cannot redeem his brother. But if the natures are united in the one person, if this Man is God, then our redemption and justification is certain and sure. We can point to the cross and say: “God paid the sufficient ransom for my sins.” We can point to the empty tomb and say: “God defeated death on my behalf.”

So, during the season of Easter, let us remember who our Savior is. And during the season of Christmas, let us remember what our Savior has done.

The Rev. Travis Berg is pastor of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, Latimer, Iowa.

[1] 1 Cor. 15:17.

[2] Formula Epitome, VIII, 13. Reader’s Edition.

[3] “Sonder ein solcher Mensch, des menschliche natur mit dem Sohn Gottes so eine tiefe unausspechliche Voreinigung und Gemeinschaft hat, dass sie mit ihm ein Person ist.”

[4] Psalm 49:7.