The Most Surprising Way to Come Alive
Today is Easter Sunday and all weekend long I have been thinking about the resurrection. Believing Jesus died, was buried and then rose to life is the foundation of our Christian faith but the thought that keeps surprising me this weekend is not that it happened but that it is still happening!
In the beginning, after God had created our beautiful world and placed Adam and Eve in the garden, He gave them a choice. "See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil." (Duet. 30:15) They chose death, and now, so do we. Our sin-wrecked hearts are inexplicably drawn to dark and decay BUT GOD in His great love did not accept this as our fate. Having written the laws Himself, He could not break them, so instead He found a loophole - in order to give us life God introduces the greatest plot twist of all time. Since we chose death He decreed that death would no longer be the end - the dead end - instead death would become a door. God entered into our story through the person of Jesus, broke through that wall of death, placed His body in the gap and became the Door.
I am the door. If anyone enters in by me, he will be saved, and will go in and go out, and will find pasture.
Death which was intended to be our end, now becomes our beginning. Death becomes not only one way to be fully alive but the ONLY way. Is this as shocking to you as it is to me?!? Think about how many times Jesus alluded to this upside-down path...
For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.
I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.
1 Peter 2:24
Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.
Let's take a moment to consider this last verse for a moment. We experience the shocking truth that life follows death when we watch things bloom each Spring. We bury a small, hard seed in the ground and slowly, over time, that seed sheds it's skin, breaks open and from that shell comes something new. I'm a terrible gardener but someday I hope to improve this skill set for the sole purpose of watching this gospel play out in my own backyard. Nature is showing us this backward and shocking path and it has all sorts of implications for our lives.
One question I find myself obsessing over today is this: Is everything that dies in Christ raised? Meaning, is every part of my old nature that submits to Christ and falls away buried and then raised in glory? Is that anger that I set down in obedience a seed? Can the lustful thought taken captive and thrown out the window grow into a beanstalk? Can the selfish desires buried in humility become a garden of glory? Can all of me be resurrected by this same pattern? Friends, I think the answer is YES. And if the answer is 'yes' then death gives far more than it takes.
And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.
2 Corinthians 3:18
Our God is not a God of death but a God of life. When He asks us to die these daily deaths to our sinful nature it is not because He enjoys death - it is because He knows death is merely a door that leads to abundant life. When He asks us to lay down our lives it is not because He wants us to feel sad and robbed and walk around like martyrs - NO! He asks us to lay down our lives because they are seeds - and each part of us that drops into the earth and dies is raised up new - better - glorified.
If we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection.
Not only will our bodies be buried and raised in glory one day, but even now Christ is resurrecting all the pieces of our lives! This is the hope of Easter - Jesus entered into the death we chose and transformed it into something that gives birth to life! We could have never written this narrative - it is too shocking! Death is not the end - it is a door - a seed and the ultimate plot twist. So let us not travel through life clutching hard seeds in our hearts and hands, but rather, let us be buried - in every way - and raised to glory by our resurrected King!
"Shower, O heavens, from above, and let the clouds rain down righteousness; let the earth open, that salvation and righteousness may bear fruit; let the earth cause them both to sprout; I the LORD have created it."
Martha answered, "I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day. Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die;"
Those who plant in tears will harvest with shouts of joy.
It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory
1 Corinthians 15:43