What does the resurrection of Jesus mean to you?
As evangelicals we are very keen on the crucifixion. Sometimes to the exclusion of everything else. The cross has said it all, we sing, but if so, what was the purpose of Jesus rising again if there was nothing left to accomplish?
On this last day of Easter, I am looking at what the personal meaning of the resurrection is, not just as a vindication of Jesus dying for our sins or for his teaching, but something in its own right.
To me the passion of Christ is one event which starts at Palm Sunday, goes through the arrest, torture, mock trial, crucifixion. resurrection, ascension and on to the Holy Spirit being sent. However I have been challenged by a priest in the Orthodox church to look at each of the elements in this means. The resurrection taken on its own was the hardest one to get my mind around. Let us compare what Saint Paul had to say about it:
If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.
and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,
that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death,
We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.
We have been raised
The fact is that because Jesus Christ has been raised from the dead that we are also raised from the dead in him. Not just will be raised (thought that is true, see 1 Corinthians chapter 15) but that in Christ we are raised, Yup. are raised, present tense. The passages also do not so much link our resurrection in Christ to the crucifixion as to the ascension, which is why I have left it until now, Ascension Eve, to post on my blog.
We also have been raised for a purpose. We have something to do. Good works are very important.
These are not good works that lead to salvation. The Bible is clear that salvation is not by good works. But our salvation has been bought on the cross, we are saved by what Jesus has done alone, there is nothing else to do as far as salvation is concerned.
Not a single thing.
But as you read Paul’s letters, you come across that what he is saying is that although good works cannot save us. And I will repeat this as it is so important: Good works cannot save us. Yet we have been raised in Christ for good works, Paul is actually a big fan of good works. We have a job to do that it is given by God. That work is the work of the church, preaching the word of God, making disciples of all people, feeding the hungry, clothing strangers, welcoming strangers, visiting the sick and imprisoned.
That is the work of the church in a soundbite. Your part in this will vary, we are not all pastors or prophets. We are not all called to be missionaries in Taiwan (Hi Catherine Lee) or in Mozambique (Hi Ruth Donaldson). We are not all called to work with Christians against Poverty, though I support my church in supporting this. But each of us needs to find out what God has called us to do, and then do it. And we need to support those who are called to do something else. Whatever we are called to do, it is all part of showing God’s love to the world.
Prayer: Father God.
Thank you that your Son Jesus Christ died for my sins, and that in him being raised again from the dead I too have been raised to new life in him. Show me the works that I have been called to, and walk with me in the Holy Spirit to enable me to perform them.