Three Gifts of the ResurrectionSunday, October 6, 2013
If you listen carefully, you can hear echoes of the resurrection in the great, epic stories we return to again and again. Those stories lead us to a point of despair where all seems to be lost, only then to erupt into uncontainable joy as good triumphs over evil.
There is a reason these stories resonate with us. In one way or another, they model and mimic the true story of our world. A story of perfection and paradise, corrupted by human sin and wickedness, redeemed by a selfless sacrifice, and restored through a triumphant return. This is the true story of our world.
Jesus’ resurrection is the turning point. There is great significance in this event, both in the broader story of all of creation and in our individual stories. For us, as believers, there are three unmistakable gifts of the resurrection. While there are obviously more than these, I believe there is much to be gained from focusing on these three gifts.
1. LIFE BEYOND THE GRAVE
Jesus’ resurrection guarantees life beyond the grave – the first gift. In it, we find there is hope in our despair.
The resurrection tells the Christian that the sin of your past doesn’t define your future. The struggle of the present will not keep you from glory. While you may look at yourself and only see your sin and failure, the resurrection says there’s more. The dark night is giving way to the dawn.
Life beyond the grave means we can have confidence that Jesus will do what He has promised. Even though the idea of worshipping a crucified and risen Savior seems like nonsense for many people, we can witness with the confidence that there are people who will join the millions over the course of history who have been amazed to encounter the resurrected Savior.
There are people who sense the darkness of their hearts and the depths of their sin and they are hoping for life – life beyond the deadness of their heart, life beyond the dreariness of their routine, and life that will take them beyond the grave to the world for which they were created. Jesus’ resurrection grants us this gift.
2. JOY BEYOND BELIEF
The resurrection gives us joy beyond belief. We have the kind of joy that lasts forever and undergirds our lives. Knowing joy comes in the morning can give you hope during the darkest night.
The gospel seems like it is good news that is too good to be true. The truth is, the gospel is too good not to be true. We can never exhaust the truths of the gospel. And it’s our joy that keeps us on the pursuit of God. Sometimes our faith has to catch up with our joy.
In Jesus, everything sad will come untrue, and all the sufferings and pain of this present world will be swallowed up in a sinkhole of death and covered over with a garden so beautiful that it will make all the pain seem worth it.
When Christ comes again, He will make us like Himself. Our final destination is a new earth. We await the day of resurrection, when the joy of heaven is reunited with the stuff of earth. In that day, joy will be our routine. It is, as C.S. Lewis called it, “the business of heaven.”
Coffins will not stay closed. Old bones will come back together. Skin will reappear. That hole we fill up with dirt will be empty once more. The stench of death will be blown away by the fragrance of new life. The cemetery is a garden, and one day the joy of resurrection will blow through the tombstones of all who believe.
3. MISSION BEYOND BORDERS
Christ’s work for you - as the Messiah who suffered, and died and rose – gives way to His work through you – as the ones who witness to His name. When God calls you to salvation, He calls you to His mission. His work for us leads to His work through us.
So the point of the resurrection is not to sit back and wait for a heavenly afterlife. It’s not to give a religious dimension to our lives. It’s not to rest only in the comfort of future hope. The point is proclamation.
The message is about the Messiah, and the message is for sinners everywhere. It’s about repentance. It’s about dying to sin and being made right with God. Forgiveness is available to all because of the wrath-averting sacrifice of Jesus on the cross and the life-giving splendor of Jesus in His resurrection. We are soldiers of the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.
There is a breeze blowing through this army of messengers. That breeze is a Person – He is the Holy Spirit of God empowering us to be on mission. The borders aren’t confined to Jerusalem. They’re not confined to your church or your community. The message must go out. The nations must hear.
The Spirit of God uses the gospel of God to motivate the people of God to be on mission with God. To be about His work is a great gift.
The Point of Resurrection
The resurrection is not the “happy end” after Jesus’ death. It’s the happy beginning of God’s new creation. We have a job to do.
In 1 Corinthians 15, Paul devotes an entire chapter to unpacking the resurrection and its significance. And how does this lengthy chapter end? Therefore, my dear brothers – in other words, “in light of the resurrection” – be steadfast, immovable, always excelling in the Lord’s work, knowing that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.
Knowing that we have been given life beyond the grave, joy beyond belief and a mission beyond borders enables us, through the power of the Holy Spirit, to labor for the Lord.
Trevin Wax serves the church by working at LifeWay Christian Resources as managing editor of The Gospel Project, a gospel-centered small group curriculum for all ages that focuses on the grand narrative of Scripture. Visit his blog, Kingdom People, and follow him on Twitter @TrevinWax.