It is the week of Easter and I sense His victory, His death-defying power and His unapologetic trouncing of all that opposes Him. I spent this morning reflecting on the smile-inducing, heart-filling, joy-catalyzing ramifications of the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.
“And when they had carried out all that was written of Him, they took Him down from the tree and laid Him in a tomb. But God raised Him from the dead, and for many days He appeared…” – Acts 13:29-31
God had ordained the crucifixion and sinful man had unwittingly cooperated with His plan which had been in effect prior to the founding of the known universe (Rev. 13:8; 1 Peter 1:19-20). The Messiah was rejected and crucified as, even though He had come to His own, His own received Him not. The price for our sin was offered there upon Calvary and it appeared to all sight-walkers that an epic, irreversible tragedy had occurred. Their sky-high hopes had plummeted to the dust. Every miracle which Jesus had performed in three-plus years of public ministry was now obscured with doubt and confusion. His words – did they now prove to be hollow and impotent? His followers had grown over time to hold more and more confidence in Him and there was no denying that His authority over demons, nature and the shackles of sin had been fully demonstrated. He had saved people from death. Jesus had banished disease and affliction from more people than could be counted. God’s Son had provided food to the hungry and freedoms to the oppressed. He shook the very foundations of the politicized religious structure of His day. In the shadow of the cross, two worlds collided: the world of hope and the world of despair. As the crowd dispersed that day it seemed likely that despair had spoken the final word to them all.
And then…on that resurrection Sunday…light came from the tomb. Despair lowered its eyes, shoved its hands in its pockets, slowly turned its back and walked away to be longed after by nobody. In the absence of Despair entered Hope.
The Resurrection of Jesus Christ is the exclamation point on the Gospel. The great barrier of death, the intimidating opponent of death and the dreaded cloak of our eventual demise would haunt us day and night were it not for the Spirit-embedded conviction that we have been gifted with a comprehensive victory. There is no weapon formed against us more vicious than death. It appeared to possess the ultimate dominion over us until Jesus Christ emerged with it on a leash. Now the Resurrection testifies to me that, because the saving work of Christ is finished, it is all well with my soul. My body will drop at some point. My final breath will expire and my blood will cease to flow. My brain waves will become still and someone will declare me dead. Throughout our lives we discover in various testings and challenges that we are confronted with a thousand mini-entombments as we journey forth. How many times are we tempted to doubt that it is all over? We preach to ourselves, “This is my undoing! Nothing good can come from this! There is no longer hope for escape!” And yet we who wait upon the Lord have our strength renewed. We experience grace to mount up with wings like eagles; we somehow are made to continue our run and not become weary. We travel onward and do not faint. If I allow my sanctified imagination to view Resurrection in a personified sense I see Him approach me with a smile. He is confident. He is very powerful. He has no need to prove a thing to me. I imagine that He approaches me in a scene of my own doubt or worry or fear over something that seems so big and He asks me with a very tender smile,
“Do you know me?”
I tell him that I do and that his name is Resurrection. When he asks me what I believe of him I unload all my theology upon him in an unbroken, orthodox monologue of truth. He tells me that I seem to have my facts in line and then He asks me another question,
“So, how are you living out all of this beautiful truth that you know and declare about Me?”
Hesitation pounces on me. His question convicts me to the core. I don’t really know what to answer Him so I practice the art of complete silence lest I open my mouth and reveal the degree of my ignorance.
Still smiling, Resurrection says to me, “I dare you not to trust me. I dare you to let that thing I see in your heart become bigger than me. Jeff, slow down and think about it: is there really anything too difficult for God? Do not I prove myself as the final say in all matters? Why are you trembling at the shadow of merely difficult things when I have already broken the authority of deadly things? Death was your arch-enemy and I soundly defeated him. I crushed your arch-enemy before I ever let you know that I was your Friend. Can you not trust Me to handle your lesser opposition? Would you welcome Me to work triumphantly in you? Am I just a well-established doctrine to you… or am I the living force in your journey?”
You see, Resurrection is not a doctrinal nuance of the Christian faith. Resurrection is not limited to some historical event. Resurrection is a Person. This Person is the Son of God and the Savior of all who believe. Resurrection is Jesus Christ and He is the one who speaks to you today. If you are His then hear Him tell you of your victory and accept His dare to believe Him to the fullest. Hear Him remind you that He is here. Hear His majestic voice speaking with full authority over all that comes against you. Hear Him make again that grand promise from 2,000 years ago,
“I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” – John 11:25-26
Yes, today I do believe it because everyday I should believe it. Some days I simply must believe it because it is my anchor and mainsail. As Easter approaches, think deeply on what you are to do with Resurrection. Believe it…but don’t believe it and fail to live it.