Christ’s resurrection is the public display of His victory, the triumph of the Crucified One….The message of Easter is not just that Jesus is alive, it is so much more. Easter means that Christ is risen to save, help, keep, and love His people to the end. (Leon L. Morris, adapted)
We Are Significant to God
Frank Capra (1897-1991) was an Sicilian-born American film director, producer and writer, famous for his work in the 1930s and 1940s. I only know his film, “It’s a Wonderful Life,” produced in 1946. The movie did not immediately resonate with audiences, but its popularity has grown over the years. Capra was asked about the central message of his film. And he responded, “The real message of ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ is that under the sun, nothing is insignificant to God.” Now, when we watch the movie again, notice that everything that happens has intended and unintended consequences. Everything causes something else to happen. Everybody in that story is important, because he or she relates to everyone else. God has ordered life so that everything is consequential and meaningful to Him. Let’s remember that we are important to God, and also everyone around us is significant to the Lord too.1
This builds on our previous posts: Eyewitnesses of Christ’s Resurrection and Jesus’ Resurrection: Something New Begins.
Billy Graham says: “There is more evidence that Christ rose from the dead than that Julius Caesar ever lived or that Alexander the Great died at the age of thirty-three.” Jesus’ resurrection is a historical fact. But what has God accomplished in raising Christ? Here are more biblical answers.
Because Believers Are Raised with Jesus, Our True Identity Is Found in Him
Scriptures: God raised us up with Christ and seated us with Him in the heavenly realms….Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at God’s right hand. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.2
Comments: Brittany Yesudasan notes that our culture is obsessed with discovering individual identity. Millions of people take personality tests, dream assessments, and online quizzes. Everyone is yearning for something or someone to tell them who they are, where they belong, and how they relate to the world. Our natural tendency is to search for our identity in external things like jobs and careers, financial success and status, relationships, physical appearance, grades, and reputation. But these things are not permanent. They can change without warning and we will be disappointed.3
But God (the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) is unchanging and reliable. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. When our identity hangs on Him, we will never ultimately be let down because He has proven to be trustworthy over the centuries.
Here is a bit from Sandra McCracken‘s song “Steadfast:”
I will build my house whether storm or drought on the rock that does not move
I will set my hope in Your love, O Lord
And your faithfulness will prove You are steadfast, steadfast
I will not trust in the strength of kings; on Your promise I will stand
I will shout for joy, I will raise my voice
Hallelujah to the Lamb! You are steadfast, steadfast
Our true life, identity, destiny, and value is wrapped up in our Risen Lord Jesus. Let’s remind ourselves and each other of that. Understanding who we are in Christ starts with understanding who He is, what He says about Himself, and what He says about us. That’s the only solid foundation. All other ground is sinking sand.
Because of Christ’s Resurrection, We Are Born Again to a Living Hope
Scripture: Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus! In His great mercy He has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade, kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith, of greater worth than gold, may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory, and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen Him, you love Him. And even though you do not see Him now, you believe in Him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.4
Comments: This section from Peter is one of the richest in the whole Bible. It describes the great salvation that God (Father, Son, and Spirit) has won for us. Because God raised Jesus from the dead, believers are born again into resurrection life, with confidence that we will one day experience the full flourishing of this life. Our bodies and the whole creation will be resurrected at Christ’s return. The Lord will powerfully protect us and our inheritance will be far better than the land of Canaan. See Revelation chapters 21-22.
Our future hope in Christ’s Second Coming helps His believers press on through hardships. We can be overjoyed here and now by what awaits us there and then. Peter writes that God will praise, honor, and glorify us when Christ returns. And even though we have not yet seen Jesus in person, we already love Him, trust Him, and delight in Him, even when things are not going well.
J. I. Packer says: Joy is a condition that is experienced, but it is more than a feeling. It is, primarily, a state of mind that leads to satisfied living. Joy is not an accident of temperament or an unpredictable providence. Joy is a matter of choice and the secret of joy for Christian believers lies in the fine art of Christian thinking.
Because of Christ’s Resurrection, We Now Enjoy His Personal Fellowship
Scriptures: “Surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age….Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?”5
Comments: A. W. Tozer says: The truth is that God (Father, Son, and Spirit) is the most winsome of all beings and His service is one of unspeakable pleasure. He is all love, and those who trust Him need never know anything but that love. The Lord is just, righteous, and fair and He will not condone sin. But through the blood of His everlasting covenant, God is able to treat us exactly as if we had never sinned. Jesus’ mercy will always triumph over justice for people who trust and obey Him.
Fellowship with God is delightful beyond all telling. He communes with His redeemed ones in an easy, uninhibited fellowship that is restful and healing to the soul. He is not overly sensitive, selfish, or temperamental. His character is steadfast and faithful. Christ is not hard to please. He expects of us only what He Himself first supplies to us. He is quick to notice every simple effort to please Him, and just as quick to overlook our imperfections when He knows we mean to do His will.6
To be continued
Notes (various Bible translations used): 1 Jay Akkerman, Leadership Journal. 2 Eph 2:6; Col 3:1-4. 3 “Your Identity in Christ: How God Sees You,” (www.cru.org). 4 1 Peter 1:3-9. 5 Matt 28:20; Heb 13:5-6 (Quoting Deut 31:6; Psalm 118:6-7). 6 The Root of the Righteous, originally published 1955, reprinted 2015. The title comes from Proverbs 12:3 “No one can be established (stable) through wickedness, but the righteous cannot be uprooted.”