Catch the Current
Your Easter I.D., Part Three: Risen with Christ
Martha answered, "I know he [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, in the "sweet by and by." It is as if Martha feels for a moment that Jesus is giving her the last thing anyone probably 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 itself, 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 was at that moment conversing. The dark valley of the shadow of death she had entered just four days earlier was about to be visited by the only person on the planet that possessed a power greater than death. All that was required, Jesus said, was that she . . . "believe."
Certainly Martha's confession of faith in a coming "resurrection" was no small thing. At least she had a long-term hope in God's ultimate power over death. Jesus was, however, calling 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.
The Risen Life
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 an historical, and a future, event, but it is so much more. The Apostle Paul lived his life every day in light of Resurrection power and taught us how to do so in Romans 6, 7 and 8.
According to Paul, the Resurrection is a 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 Cor. 15:20. NLT).
"Now we live with a wonderful expectation because Jesus Christ rose again from the dead" (1 Pet. 1:3 NLT).
The Resurrection is also a 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" (Rom. 6:4 NLT). "For when we died with Christ we were set free from the power of sin" (Rom. 6:7 NLT).
The Resurrection is also a 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 and living life in the power of the Holy Spirit. It is an experience and a perspective for life: "[N]ow 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" (Rom. 7:6 NLT).
Robert Crosby is an author and Professor of Practical Theology at Southeastern University. Read his interview with Bobby Gruenewald, the Founder of YouVersion.com (the Bible App) and related articles at Christianity Today—The New Engagers and The Social Network Gospel.
Robert Crosby is the author of the new book, The Teaming Church: Ministry in the Age of Collaboration (Abingdon Press). Crosby's column, "Catch the Current," is published every other Tuesday on the Evangelical portal. Subscribe via email or RSS.