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What Is Resurrection Life?
So, Praise the Lord, my soul!
All my being, praise his holy name!Praise the Lord, my soul,and do not forget how kind he is.He forgives all my sinsand heals all my diseases.He keeps me from the graveand blesses me with love and mercy.He fills my life with good things,so that I stay young and strong like an eagle. – Psalm 103:1-5 GNT
All around the world, this past week, Christ-followers celebrated the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Messiah, Son of God, the Suffering Servant, the King of kings and the Lord of lords. The issue of sin that kept generations in perpetual bondage since the time of creation, was finally dealt with on the cross and the resurrection life we can experience today goes beyond our understanding. For some of us this is new or vague information that might be challenging to make sense of, while for others, it has been the story we have grown up with. Either way, this good news has relevance for our lives, not only when we die, but for right now!
Perhaps a good way to parallel the story of the cross and the resurrection life that comes with it is the story of Lazarus in John 11, where Jesus performs a miracle, foreshadowing what he would later do for all humanity. Lazarus is a good friend of Jesus and he has two sisters, Mary and Martha. One day Jesus receives word that Lazarus is sick, but instead of going to see his friend right away, Jesus waits three days, telling his disciples that Lazarus was only asleep. By the time Jesus arrives in Bethany, where Lazarus now lay dead in a tomb, Martha comes to Jesus in despair, not realizing who Jesus really was. Jesus tells her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25, 26 NIV). It is important to mention here that death is the consequence of sin (Romans 6:23), not just physical death, but spiritual death. The life that Jesus is referring to in his response to Martha is not only physical, but spiritual.
Being deeply moved by the sadness surrounding Lazarus’ death and perhaps the sense of how lost God’s people were, Jesus wept. He tells someone to take away the stone covering the tomb and despite Martha’s disbelief, Jesus reminds her that she was about to witness the glory of God. In front of several people watching, Jesus calls out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” (John 11:43). Lazarus came back to life, his body still wrapped in linen. At this, Jesus tells the people to take off the grave clothes around him and let him go. So how does this story of Lazarus coming back to life parallel the resurrection life Jesus provided for us at Easter?
I would put forward that all of us have known spiritual death just as Lazarus laid dead in his tomb. Because of sin in our lives, we have known feelings of hopelessness, loneliness, despair, addiction, anger, jealousy, fear, depression, greed, shame, bitterness etc. with no way of recovery. The truth is, sin separates us from God, but Jesus came to bring us close to God and to give us spiritual life! When Jesus called Lazarus to come out from his tomb, Lazarus woke up and walked out. Similarly, because of what Jesus has accomplished for us on the cross, paying the price for our sin that only he could pay, today he calls all of us to wake up from spiritual death and find hope in him, who defeated death once for all time. When we put our trust in Jesus, our spirit is awakened and we are able to walk in his resurrection life. When hopelessness, loneliness, despair etc. come, we are not left with no way of recovery, rather, we know we “have been crucified with Christ, and [we] no longer live, but Christ lives in [us]. The life [we] now live in the body, [we] live by faith in the Son of God, who loved [us] and gave himself for [us].” (Galatians 2:20)
I love how Lazarus’ story did not end with him simply walking out of the tomb. Jesus tells the people to help Lazarus remove his grave clothes and let him go. The resurrection life we have in Christ is not without loving community. We all need people in our lives who aren’t afraid of the evidence of our past, our pain, our fears, our struggles etc. that resulted from our spiritual death and distance from God. Today I encourage you to surrender to Christ and put your trust in him, who is able to give you resurrection life, and allow loving community, whether friends, family, or church small groups, to help you continue in that resurrection life that Jesus paid so dearly for us to have now and forever!