So. Up from the grave he arose. Good news. Great reason to celebrate on Resurrection Day (Easter) and on every Sunday, which should be a Resurrection Day remembrance.
Ever stop to wonder why? Ever stop to wonder why Jesus came into the world, died on the cross and was raised up to new life? Was it really just so I could feel good in a world gone bad? Was it really so you can feel a sense of security when people around you are mean or violent or things go south in your life?
It’s not that those things are wrong. It’s not that God isn’t able to help us when we need it. Isaiah 40:31 says He is:
…those who hope in the LORD
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.
But is that the REASON Jesus died and was resurrected? It seems God was already doing all that before Jesus was born, before the Word of God became flesh and dwelt among us.
“Well,” we say, “Jesus dying and being raised also gave us something new – an assurance that death was defeated. We no longer have to fear death.” Okay, that’s true. But what do we do with that, really? I mean, most of us still live like this life is all there is. We may not fear death as a tragic event, but we fear it as an end to the good things of life. “I don’t want to die too soon because I want to see my grandkids grow up.” A noble sentiment and a loving one at that. But if we die and yet go on to live like the resurrected Jesus – living in immeasurable joy in God’s Kingdom – is that not a greater life to live? Is it not a life we want to encourage our grandchildren to look forward to? We say things like, “I may not be feeling great but it beats the alternative.” It does? Jesus wouldn’t agree, it seems to me. Not considering the new life he took on when he left that tomb!
I fear that we have mishandled the good news of Easter. I fear we ONLY see it as a way to give us a sense of peace for our personal future, for that moment when our time finally runs out. But it’s more, much more. It was an event calling forth a new reality and ushering in the time when we join in the work of making God’s Kingdom a reality in this world. It was an event meant to empower us to live boldly and to continue the mission and ministry of Jesus.
What ministry is that?
In Luke we find these words of Jesus as he quotes Isaiah, but refers to himself:
“The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to release the oppressed,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
In John’s gospel these words are spoken by Jesus:
…I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
It is a word given for us, yes, but it is also a word to be spoken from us. We are to do all we can to make this words come to life for others. What Jesus has given us he has now called us to bring to others. And he asks us to do it like he did – by serving others, by teaching others (which calls us to learn from the Holy Spirit who teaches us and gives us the power to make it happen), by loving one another, worshiping together, and making our community of faith a witness of what the Kingdom of God is like.
Too often I find myself, and others, embracing this world and using God as my back up plan, my phone-a-friend. I find myself not seeking to let the Spirit of God move in me like it did in Jesus. Jesus allowed the Spirit to lead him into the wilderness and to heal the broken and to love those who were rejected by the religious people. Me? I use the Holy Spirit as a crutch when I’m having a bad day. The Holy Spirit was poured out to transform me more and more into the likeness of Jesus so I can do what God would want me to do for HIS Kingdom. I treat the Spirit like my personal attendant giving me what I need for MY well-being.
Yes, Jesus Christ is alive, I know because he lives in me, as the song says. But, it may just be about time I let him out and show him to others so they might find life as well. When I do this it changes why I do what I do. My prayer time becomes not a time to pray for a good day but to pray for God to give me boldness and courage to hear His call and answer it. My time studying Scripture is not spent so I can have a nice phrase to post on Facebook, but so that I can learn the story so I can help it continue on. My time in worship becomes not just a good way to make my week better, but a time to remember Jesus is risen and he calls me to unite with others to serve God and make all God’s dreams comes true rather than my own. My life becomes enslaved to the gospel, the good news that new life can be found in Jesus because Jesus has been raised up to new life. And in my slavery I find the most incredible freedom that the world could never give.
He is alive, not simply so I can feel good even on bad days, but so that together with Jesus and his Church I can help others find good on the other side of the bad. He is alive to give us hope and he asks us to invite others to know the hope we have in him AND make it a reality in their life.
It seems to me that is a more interesting Savior to follow. I hope it seems that way to you.
Holy high-five to you,