The Glory Road Blog, A Kingdom Highway
April 15, 2017
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (I Peter 1:3, ESV).
The news media refers to Easter as Christians’, “most holy day,” and indeed it is because had Christ not have risen from the dead, we Christians, of all humankind, would be the most miserable.
During our trip to Israel, in 2000, on Easter Sunday, we visited “the garden Tomb,” a Protestant non-denominational place of Christian worship and reflection. We waited in line for our turn to enter the tomb, which was tiny, dark and cool. There was a burial chamber cut out of the rock just to the right of the entry. It is believed to be like the new tomb Joseph of Arimathea provided for Jesus (See Matthew 27:57-60). As we turned to leave, I saw the rough hewn board over the door, which said in rugged script, “Why seek ye the living among the dead? He is not here. He is risen.” That brought tears to my eyes.
We also visited the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, which Catholics believe marks the place of Christ’s crucifixion and burial. Protestants and Catholics don’t agree on where the world changing event occurred, but we all agree that without Christ’s death, burial and resurrection, we Christians would be without hope in this world.
The words of the beloved old Hymn, “Low in the Grave He Lay,” come to me now as I write: You can listen to it on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CtxSWcfH9hk
Chorus: “Up from the grave he arose, with a mighty triumph o’er his foes; He arose a victor from the dark domain, and He lives forever with his saints to reign. He arose! He arose! Hallelujah! Christ arose!”
Crucifixion was the preferred punishment by the Roman government. They nailed their victims to a cross outside the gates of the city to warn visitors what they could expect if they transgressed the law. I am very squeamish, and cannot bear to think about my precious Jesus being treated in this brutal, barbaric way. Yet, decades ago, God used a vision of Christ on the cross, suffering for me personally, to baptize me in Fire and in the Holy Spirit.
Yesterday, I was immersed again in the Spirit thinking of what Christ endured to reconcile disobedient and rebellious humankind to our loving and grace filled Father God. While praying for those the Lord had put on my heart, the thought flooded my soul that the Resurrection is not only the greatest miracle in human history, but also the gateway for us to enter into the Presence of Father God, who is limitless peace, love, and joy, mercy and grace.
The graphic in this writing reflects the scripture in Romans 8:11, “If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you” (ESV). Ponder that with me for however long it takes to get the significance which bathes my soul and empowers my prayers for healing for you and me. It speaks of the very same Spirit who dwells in us, prophesied by John the Baptist, “He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire” (Matthew 3:11, ESV), and by Jesus, “Nevertheless I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you” (John 16:7, RSV). This is the “born again” experience, “the living hope” of the Resurrection about which Peter spoke (I Peter 1:3).
The church world beats the drum regarding our salvation from sin, which is a wonderful gift, but no church I’ve attended ever got as excited about what the resurrection of Christ actually means for us here and now, in our daily walk.
Maybe you have overcome all your neurotic stuff, your baggage from childhood, your apprehension about missing God’s love and grace delivered to us from over zealous preachers, but even though I just celebrated my 76th birthday, I haven’t escaped totally the devastating effect of those neuroses which still linger. Maybe we aren’t meant to. Maybe they are there as part of the “cactus patches” given us to show us that God is still there, still loving us, protecting us, enriching our spirits, and healing our bodies. Maybe if all were perfect, we might forget that God is the blessing fount of our lives, the benefactor who gives and gives until His gifts are: “Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over” (Luke 6:38).
This includes our guilt and our neurotic fears. I saw decades ago that if Christ delivered us from our sins, but not the accompanying guilt, He only got the job half done. And since He does all things well, that cannot be. Guilt is built into the human psyche and becomes the fuel for all our obsessions and neurotic stuff.
This is why I value the Weymouth translation, because he assures us that Christ’s death and resurrection from the dead, delivers us not only from our sin, but equally importantly, from our guilt. Here are a few examples; “If therefore we have now been pronounced free from guilt through His blood, much more shall we be delivered from God’s anger through Him” (Romans 5:9, Weymouth).
This is a free gift, not a reward for our works: “Know that it is not through obedience to Law that a man can be declared free from guilt, but only through faith in Jesus Christ. We have therefore believed in Christ Jesus, for the purpose of being declared free from guilt, through faith in Christ and not through obedience to Law. For through obedience to Law no human being shall be declared free from guilt” (Galatians 2:16, Weymouth). He repeats himself there so that we cannot miss the point. We are FREE from GUILT by grace through Faith in Christ! (Ephesians 2:8).
It is humanly impossible to quit sinning unless Christ does it through us. Likewise we cannot eradicate our neurotic stuff by self effort. As I was pondering that, God immersed me in His Spirit enabling me to see, feel, and taste why, “We are to tell how God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not charging men’s transgressions to their account, and that He has entrusted to us the Message of this reconciliation” (II Corinthians 5:19, Weymouth). When Jesus said, “It is finished” (John 19:30), He meant it!
The cross symbolizes not only the power and glory of God, but also, it is the instrument of our surrender to God. Jesus said we must deny (surrender) ourselves, take up our cross and follow Him (Matthew 16:24). Every surrender, every death to self we experience, leads us to another personal resurrection!
Father, thank You for your unmerited favor which floods our lives precisely when we are wallowing in sin and guilt. We marvel at your unconditional love and forgiveness, evidenced by the fact that, “where sin increased, grace has over flowed” (Romans 5:20, Weymouth). We join our voices with all who have gone before, who now are, and who are to come, with “the voice of a great multitude, and the voice of many waters, and the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, “Alleluia! For the Lord God Omnipotent reigneth.” Amen. Jan Antonsson
Jan Austin Antonsson
17178 Highway 59, Neosho, MO 6450 (Snail Mail)
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