Living with the Resurrected Jesus
It may have been the “often in danger of death” experiences of stoning,
it may have been the three times shipwrecked or the one night and day spent in the waters of the sea, or the dangers of robbers, rivers, wilderness, or even the dangers of the everyday experience of strange places to which he traveled and the people who lived there (II Corinthians 11:23-33); the thought of life and death were always on the mind of the Apostle Paul. He often spoke of the fact that to live is Christ and to die is gain. Yet, his focus was more on the living in Christ than the dying to gain. Yes, he gives us the glorious message of the resurrection of Jesus Christ (I Corinthians 15); however, he always moves back from heaven’s gates to living out faith now--“But if I am to live on in the flesh, this will mean fruitful labor for me…” (Philippians 1:21-26). As we celebrate the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, let us dwell on what it means to live as one immersed into Christ and into His death and resurrection. Our life in Christ is not built on renouncing immorality but rather on the impossibility of our continuing to live the way we did before we were saved/in Christ. Living with the resurrected Jesus is the greatest single force for Godly change known today. The resurrection is the character changing, mind renewing, soul enlivening work of God by the power of the Holy Spirit in the life of one who is in Christ.
Baptism pictures this total immersion into Christ Jesus (Romans 6:4). The formula of one's baptism gives testimony to this life in the resurrected Christ. By the glory of the Father we walk in “newness of life”. With our old way of life in sin nailed to the cross with Christ, we die to the old life. Our lives are no longer at the beck and call of sin. Sure temptations come and, yes, we sometimes fall to them. However, the penalty of sin and the power of sin are forever broken for those in Christ (II Corinthians 5:21). There has been a decisive end to that sin-miserable life (Romans 6:5-7). Since the sting of death is sin and Jesus took our sins with Him, so we are now alive unto God through the resurrection of Christ (I Corinthians 15:56-57). Our life is now in the image/the likeness of Jesus. Newness refers to a new quality and character in life and not to a point of time. We have “put off” the old life and “put on” the Christ-life (Ephesians 4:20-24). Sin may have characterized our old life, but now righteousness characterizes our new life. Scripture is filled with descriptions of the believer's new spiritual life. We are said to receive a new heart (Ezek. 36:26), a new spirit (Ezek. 18:31), a new song (Ps. 40:3), and a new name (Rev. 2:17). We are called a new creation (2 Cor. 5:17), a new creature (Gal. 6:15), and a new self (Eph. 4:24). When the Holy Spirit quickens our souls to new life in Christ, He does not stop His work. He continues to work on us. He transforms us.
What is the result of this new life? Did you notice that although Jesus had often gone to teach in the temple during His last week before crucifixion and resurrection, He didn’t just go to the temple. He went to the city. He went not only to the religious but to the sinners and to those who didn’t know who they were. Following His death and resurrection, He met with His disciples and commissioned them to go into the world with the good news of resurrection that not only prepares a place for us after this life but enables an abundant life in righteousness as we live (John 14:1-6). The late Lord George MacLeod, House of Lords, Church of Scotland minister said, "I simply argue that the cross be raised at the center of the marketplace as well as on the steeple of the church. I am recovering the claim that Jesus was not crucified in a cathedral between two candles, but on a cross between two thieves; on a town garbage heap; at a crossroad of politics so cosmopolitan that they had to write his title in Hebrew and in Latin and in Greek . . . and at the kind of place where cynics talk smut and thieves curse and soldiers gamble... Because that is where he died, and that is what he died about. And that is where Christ’s people ought to be and what church people ought to be about." I agree. Going into the city, the towns, the highways, and the country roads living out the resurrected life and telling the good news that Jesus died in our place and is risen so that we may live a new life. No longer ruled by sin’s curse but now under the reign of Christ Jesus we live not just a moral life. We now live in grace experienced and in our own actions of a grace-filled life that transforms our world so that His Kingdom may come and His will be done on earth as it is in heaven. We are moved from brokenness to mission. Grace is not given to provide an excuse for sin (Romans 6:1-2) but rather to provide forgiveness and escape from the overwhelming power of sin in our lives (Romans 6:5-7). Salvation is no license to allow rebellion toward God. Salvation is the liberty to live in right relationship with God.
Have you left the old country of sin and death to enter the new life and new land of Christ-like living? We have "received the reconciliation" that we may now walk, not away from God, as if released from a prison, but with God, as His children in His Son. As one has said, “We cannot live our physical life unless we are in the air and the air is in us; unless we are in Christ, and Christ is in us, we cannot live the life of Christ Jesus our Lord.”