But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him
Acts 2:24 (NIV)
The Apostle Peter makes an intriguing comment in his address to the Jerusalem crowd: “. . . it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him” (Acts 2:24). Why was death no match for Jesus? Allow me to suggest several reasons:
God had promised that Christ would overcome death. God keeps His promises. There was no way, according to God’s original agreement within the Trinity, that the Father would allow Jesus to rot in the grave (cf. Psalm 16:10).
Christ had power over death. Christ, while being the Son of Man, was also the Son of God. Christ was no mere man. He had the inherent power within Himself to die and live again. No one else has had that power and no one else will ever have it. Long before He went to the cross Jesus said, “The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life – only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father” (John 10:17-18).
Christ had paid the penalty for our sin. The reason why Jesus died was to stand in the sinner’s place, suffer the sinner’s doom, spend His life blood to purchase the sinner’s freedom (from sin) and to bring the sinner to God (cf. 1 Peter 3:18; 1 John 2:22). But once the work of reconciling sinners to God was finished (cf. John 19:30) and Christ had remained in the tomb for the appointed time, there was no reason for Him to be detained in the grave. With the debt of sin cancelled, justice demanded that death, no longer having mastery over Him, should release its hold (cf. Romans 6:9-10).
Christ has a perpetual reign. Jesus is identified in the Scriptures as a priest in a “permanent priesthood” (Hebrews 7:24). Like Melchizedek, a priest who never died (cf. Hebrews 7:1-3), Christ is a priest forever (cf. Psalm 110:4; Hebrews 6:20). Thus the reality of Christ being the Great High Priest (cf. Hebrews 4:14) in a permanent priesthood made it impossible for Him to stay in the tomb.
Christ has a plan of salvation for humankind. It was incongruous for death to hold Jesus because He didn’t want “anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). When all is said and done, it’s eventually unimaginable for Christ to be snared by the tomb because His love for a sin sick humanity was greater than the power of death. What a Saviour! Christ’s love broke death’s chains so that we could have abundant life and life everlasting! This is the good news: God “wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4 – TNIV).