“Christ has risen!” Our day has been full of that amazing truth being proclaimed everywhere we look. It is on Facebook, it was trending on Twitter, and people were professing it to one another in person. Our pastors were preaching like the lives of their flock depended on it. God is alive and moving today!
Last night Andrea and I were discussing what an alive and dynamic God looks like. We started talking about the story of Jesus. Jesus is the best image of an alive and dynamic God. He walked among us and did miracles. He loved people and was present in their lives. He loved them to his own death. That is not a passive love. That is a love that is alive and dynamic.
Our churches I think have done us a bit of a disservice, though. We have always been taught that the story centers on the cross, but I don’t think that is entirely true. Please, please, please don’t get me wrong; the cross is huge. Without the cross Jesus never could have crushed Satan under his feet.
By dying on the cross Jesus provided the blood for the new covenant. It satisfied our need for a spotless sacrifice to be able to repair the damage in our relationship with God. By Jesus dying, he broke the chains that bound us. He paid for our life. We were dead in our sin. Romans 6:23 says, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” We were dead. So Jesus became like us and joined the dead through the cross.
That is great, and super important, but we would never know that happened if Jesus had stayed dead. Jesus, while he was alive, even said “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10) We would never know that we had been set free and given life to the full if he didn't come back to tell us. We would still be living in the bondage of sin and death if.
To me, the Gospel isn’t leading up to the cross. It is leading to the empty tomb on that Sunday morning. The story cannot stop at Friday, because we have a God of life, not death. If the story stopped on Friday, if it ended with the cross, then our God would be able to die. We have a God who is bigger than death. The empty tomb shows that Jesus stomped death in the face and said it can’t touch those of us who follow him.
To me, the Gospel is that Jesus came and destroyed the shackles that we were bound by. He destroyed the sin, death, shame and anything else that keeps us from our God in Heaven who loves us dearly. Jesus made us free, and more than that, he made us family. We can only be made family if he is alive to speak for us. We would never know our righteous lineage if Jesus had not come back on Sunday and let us know he is who he says he is, and we are who he says we are.
When we accept Jesus and the good news of his resurrection we are crucified with Jesus. We die with him, but that is not the end. No, just as we die with him, we are raised with him. And when we are raised we have a choice. We can either sit in the tomb, or be like Jesus and leave the tomb and walk among the people spreading the light. Jesus sent the Holy Spirit after him to live in us and work through us. In partnering with him, we leave the tomb and share the Good News of life and freedom with the rest of the world.
So, it is time we leave the realm of the dead and walk with Jesus into the life he paid for. Take a chance, step into the light. See what happens.