Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

1 Peter 1: 3-5

 

If you wanted to be completely certain that something precious, a possession that had immeasurable worth, would be absolutely safe from every possible risk of harm or loss, where would you put it? In order to accomplish this some of us go to a vault or safe in our homes, some use a bank’s safety deposit boxes, there are privately operated secure storage facilities, and some people employ guards to keep constant watch over their possessions. Yet, none of this or these methods carries an absolute and total guarantee of security. In fact, if we hold that God’s Word is accurate and true, they are all fated to fail utterly in the end, for all of this world will be done away with and replaced by something sinless and perfect in those eternal times to come after Christ returns.

 

There is one place alone where God’s perfection exists, for Heaven is beyond our world and outside of our experience, at least it is so in its fullest expression. Yet, we know of it, and we experience a portion of its glory in the presence of the Spirit in us and in our world. God has also gifted images of the eternal and of the realm of glory where He resides to us in His Word and through the redemptive love that Christ has poured out upon us. For me, this witness is very real, and it leaves no doubt at all of the existence of Christ as my Savior. I am also fully committed to the fact that this same Redeemer is also my Lord and the ruler over all that exists in my world and beyond. Thus, His truth is my truth, and His righteousness is the ethical and the moral perspective that I desire to have fill and shape every aspect of my existence. This wholeness of being that Christ brings to all of His people is guarded and protected from the corruption of this world; yet, it is still tangible and available to people in this life.

 

The resurrection of Jesus Christ has broken through the dark shell of separation and death that sin cast over this world so that people have full and complete access to enter into an unending relationship with God. We are granted admittance into the glorious halls of heaven, and we are also provided with its immutable security and protection for our most precious of all possessions, our souls. We may live in a world that is failing with walls crumbling down before our eyes and over our heads, but in Christ, our souls dwell in heaven with the King and our hope is thus found in our vision of the eternal. However, our bodies with our hearts and our minds plus those heavenly souls live out each day in this world; so, we have a mission to engage in while we live here. We can bring that same hope of the glory of God into the presence of others during these days, and we are called upon by Christ to carry His living truth of grace, mercy, peace, and redemption to the other inhabitants of our world. As our souls are safe in heaven through Christ and by His resurrection, we can live boldly for His Gospel in all areas and aspects of our daily lives.

And behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”

Matthew 3: 17

 

God spoke. He spoke words of profound truth into the narrative of the life of Jesus. Here we see a man. He was a living, breathing, grieving and laughing, suffering and dying man. Yet, He is not like any of the rest of us, for Jesus was also the Son of God. He was unique in all of the history of humanity in that in and of himself, Jesus was worthy of God’s description of being thoroughly pleasing. He did not contain the contagion of sin that plagues all of the rest of us. Although Jesus was born as we are, grew into adulthood, and walked the streets and the paths of this world in a manner like all of us; He was utterly different in that His relationship with the Father was perfect and complete. Nothing separated them one from the other.

 

For this reason He was also the only possible answer to that separation for the rest of us. Jesus would be that perfect, spotless sacrifice that God required in order to cleanse the residents of this fallen world from our sin and to mediate the separation from God that it causes. Sacrifice is essential for us in that it is the means by which we internalize the words of repentance that our minds create so that our hearts are open to the change that Christ seeks to work in and on them. Jesus offered Himself as the ultimate, the final sacrifice that was essential for my sins and yours to be forgiven by God. However, we still need to yield ourselves to the cross of Christ in order to enter fully into the life that He is calling us to live.

 

It is only when we recognize the enormity of what it meant for Jesus to allow Himself to be taken to the torture of the cross with the totality of surrender to death that this act entailed that we can begin to grasp the nature of what it means to give ourselves to Christ. This giving requires us to yield control of our lives to the will and the rule of Christ. In order for me to do this I must be willing to set aside comfort, fear, reluctance, and self-rule as I place my life on that cross with my Lord and enter into the death of all that I have been. The realization of this moment of surrender is that time of coming into the revealed glory of Christ and the beginning of being made fully alive in the hope of Christ’s resurrection.

And Jesus cried out again in a loud voice and yielded up his spirit.

Matthew 27: 50

 

In everything and in all ways Jesus placed Himself under the authority and the direction of the Father. For it does seem clear that Jesus, in His humanity, would have preferred another end to these days on earth than the one that He was required to suffer; yet, Christ followed the plan all of the way to the cross and beyond. Now, in these final moments of human life, Jesus remains yielded to that divine will and in control of His actions and fully knowledgeable about their results. He suffered so that we could be rescued. Christ surrendered His life so that God could take ours captive.

 

Our world is not very different than the one where Jesus lived in that all people are confronted by eternal decisions. The course of life leads everyone to the foot of that same cross where Jesus was tortured and died. And just like the people who witnessed these events on that day we each get to evaluate what we see and what we experience in order to come to a conclusion regarding what we believe. Some accept Jesus for who and what He is, and they enter into Christ’s resurrection victory over sin and its death. Others listen but do not hear and see but do not understand the truth of God’s grace, mercy, and salvation.

 

For those of us who do respond in acceptance and surrender to Christ, we are called upon by God to enter into repentance. For us the life of following the resurrected Christ can never be the same as the one that we lived before. God wants us to pursue the way of Jesus in our willing surrender of our selves totally and absolutely to God’s expressed desire for us to be children of peace and lovers of our neighbors. Christ also tasks His people with being the sources of His holy light of righteousness in our world. That is a hard balancing act to accomplish. Yet, as in His moment of death and in all of life, Christ is in control. In Him and with His Spirit, we can live as lovers of truth and lovers of people so that they will also come to see that salvation is found only in the way of Christ’s cross.

 

For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.

1 Corinthians 15: 22

 

Now Paul is discussing a future event. He is talking about the real, bodily resurrection that Jesus experienced and that He will grant to everyone who believes in and follows Him. This is a part of the restoration that Christ will bring to all of creation in His second coming. Although it is rather hard to actually understand, this is a great and wonderful promise. However, my future shape and form have very little to do with my life in this world today.

 

What does matter now in this discussion of Christ’s resurrection and in this promise of a future one for me is the real fact of God’s complete and absolute control over life and death and of all of the elements of what life actually means. Jesus was a very real man who lived an earthly life just as we all do. He experienced all of the pain and suffering of a horrible death, and He drew a last breath in the same manner as every other person does. Yet, He did not stay dead. God raised Jesus out of death and resurrected Him into a new life that was seen and touched by many of His followers. Christ is alive, and this fact was clearly attested to by numerous people.

 

So, if God can overcome the ultimate defeat that we experience in life, that is death, then why couldn’t this same God overcome the daily struggles of living that we each endure? The new life that followers of Christ enter into with the Holy Spirit dwelling within us is a real version of the resurrection that Christ gained. Acceptance of Christ as Savior and Lord brings about a transformation in us that permeates every cell of our being. The idea of it being like a new birth is accurate. Christ’s resurrection grants to all who follow Him a new and a radically different view of what it means to live that is freed from the oppression of mortality and that is filled with the grace and love of the Father. Our daily mission is to seek to know Christ more fully and to live to the fullest in the expression of that grace and love.