Thursday, April 23, 2009

He rose so that I may live

I've been tossing this post around in my head since sometime in November. Since it has to do with the resurrection, it didn't seem to make sense to write around Christmas. Then I thought about it some more and thought maybe I would write it as we got closer to Easter. Then at Easter it seemed almost too obvious of a time to write it. Over those 5 or 6 months, I have come back to the topic from time to time and thought about it, but I've never attempted to write it. Now that I finally sit down to do so, it seems bigger and I hope that I can adequately convey my thoughts, not have them sound like something you have heard or read a hundred times, and really share what has been a significant discovery for me.

For years when I have thought about the resurrection, and its importance, I have focused only on the idea that Jesus had conquered death. I recognized that it was important to demonstrate that Jesus was God, to fulfill prophesy and to show all of us that there is no need to fear death. But, frankly, I didn't really go any deeper than that. Instead, the importance of Easter, I thought, was really the crucifixion and death of Jesus. The idea that thousands of years before my birth, He took my sins upon Him and died for them, so that I would not have to.

I don't want this to sound like I am downplaying the importance of the crucifixion and the sacrifice of Jesus for my sins. It is still an issue that I struggle with all of the time. Although it should not be, I sometimes let it become a weight, a burden - the idea that Jesus died for my sins. Where He apparently thinks that I am worthy of such a sacrifice, I know better . . . .

But, for the first time, I really started to think about the importance of the resurrection in the whole picture. I'm still trying to figure this all out, and you may think that I am way off, or that I am missing something, or that everybody knows this. But, I write to worship and to share where I am.

In Experiencing the Heart of Jesus, a study guide for students, Max Lucado writes this fictional dialogue by God addressing our fear that we can make God stop loving us, or that there are limits on that love.

"You wonder how long my love will last? Find your answer on a splintered cross, on a craggy hill. That's me you see up there, your maker, your God, nail-stabbed and bleeding. Covered in spit and sin-soaked. That's your sin I'm feeling. That's your death I'm dying. That's your resurrection I'm living. That's how much I love you."

I got lost in that simple sentence - "That's your resurrection I'm living." It helped me come to realize that the resurrection is not just another miracle. It is not just the fulfilling of a prophesy. It is an essential part of the entire thing. Jesus had to be resurrected, so that I could live. Jesus died a human death on the cross for my sins. Without the resurrection, I died with Him. His rebirth is my birth - it is the living after the sin has been stripped away and forgiven. It is one of the reasons why it is significant that Jesus did not return as a ghost, but again, as a living human. As it says in the gospel of Luke talking about Jesus appearing to his disciples after the resurrection:

"They were startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost. He said to them, 'Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds? Look at my hands and feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have.'" Luke 24:37-39 (NIV)

Paul, in Second Corinthians says "And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again." 2 Corinthians 5:15 (NIV)

I have heard multiple times the phrase - "He died so that I may live." As discussed above, I agree with the staggering importance of the death, but I think that it is equally accurate and important to say - "He rose so that I may live." That, too, often is something that I do not think that I deserve. But it is an incredible example of His love, commitment and power.

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