We’ve just had our Easter celebrations and I found myself needing to be renewed, so as to give thanks with a full heart.
We can get distracted, self-sufficient or inward—looking at things that are seen and felt rather than things that are unseen and eternal.
So, here’s my answer to myself—what the Psalms would call ‘lifting up our hearts’, or what the apostles would call ‘setting our minds on things above’. This is not a study. It’s just telling the truth to myself—and to us all.
The first disciples are glad when they see their Lord Jesus alive again.[i]
I should say so! Their whole life has revolved around him for three years. They have hoped for eternal life through him. They have expected the restoration of God’s reign on earth. None of this will happen without his presence, or with the way they have behaved through this crisis! But now, he’s with them!
And he’s still here. He said, ‘I will be with you always.’[ii] Our Leader and Saviour is not a memory. He’s a presence.
So, speaking personally, here’s what it means that Jesus has been raised from the dead. He comes to me with all that he has achieved as God’s Son and my Saviour.
First, the resurrection of Jesus means I’m justified in God’s eyes[iii]. He sees that I’ve turned away from self-trust, and he’s happy to count me in on what happened to Jesus.
Here’s how this works out. Jesus pleases God—totally—especially in being the willing offering for our sins. So, God vindicates or justifies him[iv]. That’s what I’m sharing in. The Father has reason to be pleased with his Son. But because the Son carries me with him in his love—through death and into resurrection, he is also pleased with me—a grateful recipient of what he has done. I’m accepted—in the Beloved Son[v].
Like Peter, I’m aware of failures. But then, because of Christ’s resurrection, I’ve also been born again to a living hope. Christ’s alive, and so am I—alive to God and alive with a hope of transformation[vi]. Christ says to us all, ‘Peace be with you’[vii]. And like Thomas, I say, ‘My Lord and my God!’
So, I’m ‘all ears’ when it comes to the resurrection!
Second, Christ’s resurrection means I’ll also rise from the dead[viii].
The Father always planned that the resurrection of Jesus would be the first one of many[ix]. We are the rest of the fruit that will make Father and Son deeply satisfied.
This wouldn’t be important if I’m living as though I’ve got forever. But I’m ‘numbering my days’. It’s wiser to do that[x].
So, there’s no shame in my death. No victory for the accuser. And it won’t be a terminus. I’ve been given eternal life and will be raised up again[xi]—with a better body and a better location. In fact, my present flesh is not good enough to inherit what God has prepared[xii].
Knowing I’ll be raised from the dead is not just a consolation. It’s a victory. I’ll see the Lord! And there won’t be a reason to cry ever again. The whole creation will be what it was created to be—and I’ll be part of it. And then, even while I’m getting weaker, God sees to it that I’m being inwardly renewed[xiii]—getting ready for the big day.
I’m already living this eternal life[xiv]. So, right now, I can do things that will last forever[xv]. Life is full of purpose.
The difficulties along the way are lessened by knowing this. Jesus tells me to only deal with what must be done today[xvi]. And this leaves head space for the coming victory to shed its light back over my troubles—for God to fill my days with joy and peace in believing[xvii]. God is always doing something—for my good and for his glory[xviii].
Third, I have a narrative to live in that’s full of hope instead of pessimism.
Running and approving my own life, as Adam tried to do—is never workable. Rather, I’m free to live as God intended—receiving his gifts, his blessing and approval. And then, I will eat from the tree of life and live forever.
This world will never be a Garden of Eden. And my attempts to make the world perfect will never succeed. But Jesus has bruised Satan’s head. And the victory of Jesus, not the failure of Adam, dominates the narrative. He’s in charge.
Many around me drown their loss of immortality with ambition, self-indulgence, fun or bluster. But eating, drinking and being merry is what you do when you’re just expecting to die. Better by far to live in God’s story.
And so, I say, ‘Christ is risen. Hallelujah!’
[i] John 20:20
[ii] Matt. 28:20
[iii] Rom. 4:25
[iv] 1 Tim. 3:16; cf. Rom. 1:4
[v] Eph. 1:6
[vi] 1 Pet. 1:3
[vii] John 20:19, 21, 26
[viii] 1 Cor. 15:19-20
[ix] 1 Cor. 15:20-24
[x] Psa. 90:12
[xi] John 6:54
[xii] 1 Cor. 15:50
[xiii] 2 Cor. 4:16
[xiv] John 17:3
[xv] 1 Cor. 3:12-13
[xvi] Matt. 6:34
[xvii] Rom. 15:13
[xviii] Rom. 8:28, 37