Matt preached a phenomenal sermon on Sunday, and I was lucky enough to talk things through with him earlier in the week, so the truths have had extra time to sink in to my blown mind (unrelated: if pastors’ kids are called PKs, does it make sense to call pastors’ wives PWs? Or is that too close to POWs?). Fresh excitement for God’s goodness and power is still settling into the corners of my soul, and I’ve been trying to figure out how to boil the big ideas down into something the size of a blog post…. here goes.
Luke 24:1-12 – On the first Easter morning, the women who had gone to attend to Jesus’ corpse tell the disciples that the body is gone from the tomb and an angel says Jesus is risen from the dead. Confusion ensues, and Peter runs to the tomb to see what he finds.
Peter is not the first person in the Bible to run and see proof that God has done an incredible thing. In Daniel 6, King Darius throws Daniel into a lions den with the prayer “May your God, whom you serve continuously, deliver you!” The next morning he runs to the den and shouts down into the pit, where, miraculously, Daniel is alive.
Both of these stories feature miracles that people run to see, but we don’t always feel the excitement when we read in our Bibles because we know the end of the story. It is amazing what happens, but it is not a surprise to us.
Enter Paul and his first letter to the Corinthians. Misinformation has been spread about the resurrection, which Paul sets out to correct. In chapter 15 he writes, “For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins…But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.”
The promise of eternal life is a huge piece of the gospel, and Jesus’ resurrection proves that it is possible, that we’re not just hoping in a vague idea or a theoretical possibility. On Easter, God demonstrated his absolute power to not only save life (as he did with Daniel in the lions’ den) but to restore life where it has been completely stomped out. Paul says that looking back on what God did for Jesus helps us look forward to what God will do for us when we trust in him. I totally buy in to this, BUT I think I have missed out on part of this promise for… ages. Possibly the whole time.
Because while I look forward to eternal life, it is easy to get bogged down in the day to day messups and frustrations and heartbreak, and looking forward to life after death doesn’t always help when I need it now.. before I die, ya know? But Paul has more to say about what the resurrection accomplished (vs 56-58):
The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord,because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.
I always thought that labour in the Lord was like, volunteer work. The chair stacking and bulletin folding and face painting on community outreach day. I’m sure that stuff isn’t in vain either, but what Paul has just finished talking about isn’t Jesus setting us free to serve on committees, it is our victory over sin through Christ.
The mindblowing truth that I’ve finally comprehended for the first time this Easter is that sin has no claim on me. Now or ever. The bad habits I have in my relationship with God are just that: bad habits. They aren’t life sentences to mediocre spirituality. The things I’m stuck on, grudges or bitterness or doubt, they are not just an inevitable part of life on Earth: they are splinters that God can pull out of my soul no matter how deep or long they’ve been there. The point is not to get caught up on how far I need to go or stress that now I have NO excuse for my shortcomings, but to realize that God is working his way to making me perfect. It won’t happen by my efforts, and I’m pretty sure it won’t happen in this life, but it’s a process that is underway and it’s important for me to give God permission to make it happen.
That’s the miracle that we as Christians get to run and see, our souls transformed beyond our wildest imagination, starting today.