Risen with Christ
This is the third article in a three-part series that encourages readers to take a fresh look at Gethsemane, Calvary, and the Resurrection to consider how identifying with Jesus in His journey can keep you focused and faithful in yours.
Martha’s beloved brother Lazarus (a close friend of Jesus) had just died. Martha was not only wracked by grief, but bewildered over the question of why. Why hadn’t Jesus come earlier? Why had He waited this long? Surely He could have saved her brother. Martha struggled with the same thing we often struggle with: a nagging if. “If You had been here, my brother would not have died,” (John 11: 21).
What Martha hoped would happen, had not. Jesus brought hope in the form of five short words: “Your brother will rise again” (verse 23). He didn’t say how. He didn’t say why. He didn’t even say when. But He did give her this promise.
Martha answered, “I know [Lazarus] will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.” In other words, I’m familiar with the doctrines. I have studied them well. I know that I have the hope of someday seeing my brother again in heaven. It is as if Martha feels for a moment that Jesus is giving her the last thing anyone wants at such a moment of deep distress: a Sunday School lesson.
What Martha did not realize, however, is that not only would there one day be a Resurrection, she was at that moment standing directly in front of Resurrection incarnate. All of the power to resurrect, to bring back to life, to transform, and to make new, were in the hands of the One with whom she conversed.
Certainly Martha’s confession of faith in a coming “resurrection” was no trivial matter. At least she had a long-term hope in God’s ultimate power over death. Jesus, however, called her to a more immediate awareness, to a personal resurrection. Resurrection power was not limited to a future event in history. No, resurrection power touched the planet the moment Jesus arrived. Why? Because He was, and is, and will forever be, the “Resurrection and the life.” Yes, Martha had a hope, but Jesus had a higher one.
Most people do just what Martha did — we underestimate the Resurrection. We relegate it to the future. And when we do, we miss out on so much purpose and power available to us right here, right now. Of course, the Resurrection is a historical, and a future event, but it is so much more. The apostle Paul lived every day in light of resurrection power and taught us how to do so in Romans 6, 7, and 8.
PREVIEW OF COMING ATTRACTIONS
The Resurrection of Jesus is a preview of what every Christian will one day experience. Jesus’ resurrection from the dead gives us great hope and removes the fear of death.
“But the fact is that Christ has been raised from the dead. He has become the first of a great harvest of those who will be raised to life again,” (1 Corinthians 15:20 NLT).
“Now we live with a wonderful expectation because Jesus Christ rose again from the dead,” (1 Peter 1:3 NLT).
POWER OVER PRESENT DISTRACTIONS
Sin is a distraction. Have you noticed? The worst thing sin does is that it distracts us from the will of God, the face of God and the presence of God. It robs us of our true identity. It breaks our focus on Jesus in life.
When we go down in the waters of baptism, we identify with Jesus in his death for our sins. We die to our sins. This one-time physical experience of baptism is intended to be an everyday mindset in the life of the Christian:
“For we died and were buried with Christ by baptism. And just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives,” (Romans 6:4 NLT).
“For when we died with Christ we were set free from the power of sin,” (Romans 6:7 NLT).
PLAN FOR SPIRIT-LED ACTIONS
When we rise up out of the waters of baptism, we identify with Jesus’ rising above the power of sin and death, to live in the power of the Holy Spirit. It is an experience and a perspective for life:
“…now we have been released from the law, for we died with Christ, and we are no longer captive to its power. Now we can really serve God, not in the old way by obeying the letter of the law, but in the new way, by the Spirit” (Romans 7:6 NLT).
Imagine that! The same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead can get you up and out of bed in the morning, can fill your soul with a sense of purpose, and can fuel you with energy to serve God in life. But in order to walk in that Risen Life, it requires that we, first of all receive that life by asking God for it. And, secondly, it involves a reckoning. We must reckon, or consider, ourselves as dead to sin and alive to God.
Robert C. Crosby is president of Emerge Counseling Ministries based in Akron, Ohio. Emerge has been providing counseling for over 45 years. Emerge also directs The HelpLine, a global call-in counseling support line for AG pastors and their family members. Crosby is the author of several books, including The One Jesus Loves, When Faith Catches Fire, and The Teaming Church. Contact Emerge Counseling at emerge.org or at 800-621-5207.