If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.
- 1st Cor. 15:19
Easter's on it's way and as far as I'm concerned it can't get here soon enough. A friend told me a slightly corny saying (no offense, brother!) just the other night. When anyone asks if he likes rock and roll, he replies, "Yes I do! I love that that rock was rolled away!"
I laughed when he relayed the saying to me but the phrase has "stuck to my bones" as I await once again the celebration of the resurrection of Christ as the pinnacle of the Christian faith. I am indeed forever changed because of the revelation of Christ's resurrection.
The Resurrection of the Son of God is the crux of the Christian Faith. Echoing Paul's sentiments above, Pastor Timothy Keller says, "If Jesus rose from the dead, then you have to accept all that he said; if he didn't rise from the dead, then why worry about any of what he said? The issue on which everything hangs is not whether or not you like his teaching but whether or not he rose from the dead."
Perhaps that's why so many seem intent on de-legitimizing Easter. Who's already tired of seeing advertisements for Hop? As a parent I'm more aware than ever of Hollywood's seemingly constant barrage of attempts to cast a shadow over what is the undeniable brightness of Easter.
But who could blame them? A lot of us buy tickets. Many a Christian effectively says "come in Savior but stay out Lord". In a sense we sub-consciously attempt to roll the rock back into place turning away from the Spirit's power to reconstitute our identities in Him. Refusing to acknowledge the necessity of resurrection lives lived for God's glory we prefer a type of self-help gospel that encourages us to be more like Jesus (WWJD?). But without our death, there's no life in Him.
For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live - Rom. 8:13
The Christmas holiday is much easier for our culture to digest than the paradigm-shifting reality of Easter. Surely the church is in a way intertwined with our life-obsessed culture that wishes to turn away from the supposed disaster of the cross. Better to focus on Christmas, the beautiful baby and the life before him to live, love, heal and revolutionize the world.
For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. - 1st Cor. 1:18
Without Christ's death and resurrection, his life was a total waste. The Christian Faith's power is in the resurrection. In conquering death He is the hope of our salvation (Psalm 33:20). Death is no longer the end. But the beginning of real life.....
"The resurrection completes the inauguration of God's kingdom. . . . It is the decisive event demonstrating that God's kingdom really has been launched on earth as it is in heaven...The message of Easter is that God's new world has been unveiled in Jesus Christ and that you're now invited to belong to it." - N.T. Wright, Surprised by Hope
Thus to the degree I participate with Him in His death, I may be raised again by His holy spirit power to walk NOW hidden in His resurrected life. In The Normal Christian Life, Watchman Nee makes a divine delineation between the blood of Christ and the cross of Christ saying "the blood atones for our sins while the cross kills our sin-nature".
"Jesus' resurrection is the beginning of God's new project not to snatch people away from earth to heaven but to colonize earth with the life of heaven. That, after all, is what the Lord's Prayer is about." - N.T. Wright, Surprised by Hope
To Nee there seems to be two pieces of true salvation that occur concurrently - the eternal and the present. The death of Christ (the blood) achieves our eternal salvation while His resurrection (the cross) provides the power to walk in His holiness and righteousness now freed from slavery to our sin-nature (Rom 6:22).
If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. - John 15:10-11
The writer of Hebrews tells us that "for the joy set before Him" Christ endured the cross. He endured what we deserved that we might enjoy His reward. May we all await and receive His coming with fresh perspective as to our undeniable present need for Him this Easter.
ps - noticed this and thought it worth posting.....
* Tyler Men's Gathering - 7am Wednesday AM The Obedience Option - Chapter 6 2 American Center, 5th Floor (Ritcheson Law Firm)
* The Magills @ East Texas Baptist University Chapel - 10am Wednesday, Marshall, TX
The Magills @ ETBU Concert Series - 12pm & 1pm Wednesday, Marshall, TX
* Azleway Boys Home Charity Event - Thursday Night, Tyler, TX
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