The Common Act of Resurrection

Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen; he is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you” (vv. 6–7).

- Mark 16:5–7

Mary Magdalene, Mary, and Salome came to Jesus’ tomb early on the first day of the week after Jesus died, expecting to find only His body (Mark 16:1–4). However, they found the tomb empty except for another “young man” who was “dressed in a white robe” (v. 5). In the extrabiblical Jewish literature of the time, “young man” often referred to a heavenly being, and that was clearly what the women encountered, for the other gospels refer to the young man as an angel. In fact, comparing all four resurrection accounts shows us that more than one angel was present at the tomb. Yet we do not have a contradiction, for Mark never says only one angel was present. Instead, Mark mentions just one angel for his own literary and theological purposes.

The young man, or angel, in the tomb had an incredible message: Jesus had risen from the dead! Just as He said, death could not hold Him (8:31). But it is important to note that the Greek text of Mark 16:6 says more literally that “He was raised.” It is the passive voice, indicating that Jesus was the object of an action. God raised Jesus from the dead. In His humanity, our Lord did not bring Himself back to life; rather, it was the work of deity to rescue Christ from the dead.

Since Jesus’ resurrection was a work of deity, the Son, in His divine nature, also effected His resurrection. God raised Jesus from the dead, but it was not the work of just one person in the Godhead. Instead, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit together raised Jesus to new life after the crucifixion. According to Galatians 1:1, God the Father raised Christ from the dead. In John 10:17–18, the Son of God tells us that He has authority to lay down His life and take it up again. Paul explains in Romans 8:11 that the Spirit of God resurrected our Savior.

This common act by the three divine persons illustrates the Trinitarian principle that in all of God’s works outside Himself (ad extra), Father, Son, and Spirit act as one. We cannot say that one person acts apart from the others; rather, because all three share the same divine nature and power, whatever that power effects is effected by all of them. This does not mean there are no distinctions to be noted in their common acts. In the resurrection, for example, the Father is the subject of the action, the Son is both subject and object (because it is Christ, as the incarnate God-man, who is restored to life), and the Spirit is both subject and indwelling agent of Christ through whom the Father and Son vivify the Son’s flesh.

Coram Deo

Because the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit all have the same essence, they must work in common toward creation. One person of the Trinity is not more powerful than another, nor is any divine work the exclusive act of just one person. Thus, all three persons are equally worthy of our worship, and we will spend eternity glorying in and worshiping the Holy Trinity.

Passages for Further Study

Genesis 1:1–2
Luke 24:3–7
John 5:17
2 Corinthians 13:14

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