(Image courtesy of https://thumbs-prod.si-cdn.com.)
"And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, 'You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die'" (Genesis 2:16-17). 
"And they made his grave with the wicked and with a rich man in his death, although he had done no violence and there was no deceit in his mouth.  Yet it was the will of the LORD to crush him..." (Isaiah 53:9-10). 
"For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God" (2 Corinthians 5:21).
 Death is a part of life.  It is all around us.  Even in the womb, life is fragile and requires lots of special care.  Likewise, after a new house is built, it immediately begins to deteriorate due to rain, wind, insects, and just by general use.  We are so used to death, decay, and deterioration that we may not stop to think: death is not normal.  Death is a result of the curse of God upon His creation for their disobedience toward Him.

When we understand death as a curse, it changes our understanding of several important things surrounding the cross and the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  Death is crucial to understand if we are to grasp the significance of the resurrection.

First, death must be understood as punishment.  After all, it is a curse pronounced by God on man and woman for their rebellion.  Consequently, all creation was subjected to the curse as well because man was given dominion over all creation; therefore, when the leader fell, so did the follower.  This is why "thorns and thistles" are now in the world.  All in all, Adam and Eve did a wrong thing, so their punishment - and ours - is just.

Second, Jesus did nothing wrong.  The curse and wrath of God had no power or rightful hold on Him. This is why Jesus says multiple times that He lays down His life on His own accord and that no one takes it from Him.  There is no other man or woman who can say that.  Death comes to each of us whether we choose it or not.  Because Jesus was innocent, He had to willingly subject Himself to death; as Paul writes in Philippians, "He became obedient to death, even death on a cross."

Third, because the plan of redemption had been decided before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4), God did not immediately punish Adam and Eve as He had declared.  Certainly, Adam and Eve suffered pain, but they did not die immediately.  This is because God relented and was gracious even in His punishment; He knew that Jesus would come to bear the full punishment for His people.

So what actually happened at the death of Jesus, then?  We must affirm, first, that Jesus never sinned; therefore, He was never actually under the curse, even though He was a man.  Jesus is the only man to have never sinned, yet He still died.  Why?  Because Christ willingly took the place of His people on the cross.  He absorbed the debt of sin into His account and was treated as though He were a sinner, a full-fledged law-breaker.  In reality, Jesus had kept the entirety of God's law from birth.  The curse had no claim on Him whatsoever.  Still, He absorbed the infinite wrath of God against mankind in His body on the cross.  The only Man in the universe unjustified in receiving punishment received it.

But, praise be to God, Jesus didn't stay dead.

Jesus was not the only man to undergo a rising from the dead.  Lazarus, for instance, was raised from the dead.  Yet, Lazarus is not here today with us.  He died yet a second time.  The curse of death still holds power over all creation.  Jesus, however, rose from the dead after absorbing the wrath of God on behalf of His children and never died again!  He is seated at the right hand of the Father in power and glory, waiting for the day when He will return to judge the entire world.  All those who have received His imputation of righteousness will go to life, but all those who have died in their sin will go to everlasting death.  The curse will be fulfilled one way or the other, and both will find justice; for God has justified the believer through Jesus' substitutionary death.

Therefore, because of Christ, the resurrection at the last day will be glorious!  The curse will be lifted in its entirety!  Death will be swallowed up in victory!  All creation will be free from decay and deterioration for the curse has been lifted!  It has been removed by the shedding of Christ's innocent, pure life in the place of man's law-breaking, filthy life.

All believers in Christ now can rest assured in the hope of Christ's resurrection.  The hope of glory is not one that we wait for, resting our hope on chance in the sense of, "I sure hope I can make it."  No; Christ's manner of resurrection has assured us of our hope, that this will indeed happen, for Christ has paid the penalty once and for all.  There is no more penalty to pay for those who have trusted in Christ's substitutionary atonement!  Because of Christ, the resurrection will be sweet, it is eternal, and it is sure!  Amen.

"And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, He has now reconciled in His body of flesh by His death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before Him, if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard..." (Colossians 1:21-23).