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Saturday, March 26, 2016

A New Resurrection

 It is Easter morning. And He is risen! The birds greet my ears with their songs of jubilation and rejoicing. They know their Creator, and they praise Him with their tuneful harmonies. 
 It is Easter morning. I too join with His Creation is celebrating the fact that death could not hold my Savior down. Sin did not have the final victory. He did. 
 I reflect on the fact that, up until Christ, the cross had been a symbol of brutality and cruel death. Those who were crucified endured the worst shame...publicly...and suffered terrible things at the hands of the Romans. It was truly one of the harshest forms of execution history has ever known. If you died on a cross, you died a slow and often horrible death: they Romans would watch as you sank under your own weight, causing the nails in your hands to tear your flesh. Your feet would bear your weight and as your lungs filled up with fluid, you would have to push up on your feet to get enough air to breathe. Your death took merely hours or sometimes days. There was no dignity to passing this way. Only public dishonor and embarrassment. But then, when Jesus endured this same painful form of torture, He somehow changed the meaning of this type of death. Because now, there was a victory in the shame. There was a triumph in the dying. 
 When the Lord arose on Easter morning, He proved that the redemption story was now completed and that humanity finally had hope of eternal life. For over a thousand years, mankind had wandered with no assurance of spiritual destination. Sacrifices of dead animals and burnt offerings were the atonement for sins. Humanity had to pay their way to God. Now, Jesus Himself established that HE was the atoning sacrifice and that burnt offerings were no longer needed to gain acceptance with God. He took our sins on Himself, bore them under the weight of God's wrath and removal of His presence, and did it so that you and I could become right with the Father. 
 I reflect on the startling truth that because of what Christ did, those things and places that once symbolized death and bitter endings, now stand as victory monuments to Him. Just like the cross, what was once was my doom and destined destruction, now has become the redeeming of my soul. The resurrection didn't just occur for those who need salvation and have not yet accepted the grace of God. No. The resurrection happened so that my heart can be restored aright. It is the picture of God raising my dark and dead places into new life with Him. When He walked out of that tomb, He declared that I was no longer a slave to sin but an heir to God through Him. And He knew that someday, He would call this fearful and sin-sick soul to Himself and make it come alive. And not only did the resurrection become reality for me personally the day I gave my heart to Him, but it continues to renew itself daily as I see Him faithfully mend what is broken in my life and turn it into something beautiful. 
 This is the message of Easter, and this is why it matters: without a Savior coming to earth and entering into this messy world of ours to walk it, breath it, see it, and touch it for three years, there is no death on the cross and therefore, no resurrection or hope of redeeming life. Only because the sinless Son of God was willing to step into the ugliness of humankind and their sin, can we then be given the reality of a new life defined by His righteousness. When He left those filthy grave clothes behind Him in the empty tomb, He symbolized that the past shame, guilt, and regrets of the past no longer had any power over Him and His chosen followers. Those who belong to Him are made alive because He lives. And they can face each day with hope. They can live a life without fear because He has risen! Because He redeems. Because He holds every part of this world and their hearts in His capable hands. 
 And so...let my soul join the chorus this day of those that sing the song of triumph. And the praises that are heard today are only a taste of what these ears will hear when, someday, I see the risen Lord in His glory as He truly is!