On the eve of celebrating the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, I thought it'd be a good idea to examine what exactly it is that we are celebrating. Two nights ago I attended a church that had a pre-Easter service at which my grandfather sung, and he did beautifully by the way. The service was centered around the day before and the day on which Christ was crucified. As I sat through countless stages, I patiently waited for my favorite part of the story, Christ's resurrection. Friends, there was no stage where He rose again. I was baffled beyond belief!
It was then that I realized how many people have missed the great story of Christ's death and resurrection by only focusing on His death. My brothers and sisters at this church only presented one half of the story of our redemption. Question: What good is Christ's death if He hadn't rose again? If there was no third day, then His death was no different than you or I dying. Christ dying on the cross was necessary, the ultimate act of selfless love but if we stop here, then that act was done in vain. What makes His death different from ours is that for one, He did it willingly, and secondly, He defeated death by rising again. To leave out this essential information is to void the entirety of Christ's redemptive work.
Recognizing that Christ's resurrection is just as important as His death, what exactly does this mean for us? Because of His death, we too are to die. Because He died for us, we die to Him. Jesus warns each one of us in Luke 9:23, "If anyone would come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me." It is impossible for us to follow Jesus if we do not die to ourselves first. Later in Luke, Jesus says again, "And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow Me cannot be My disciple." Can He be any more clearer? Without our own self crucifixion, we will never be able to follow Christ. We cannot stop here though, it isn't enough to just die to Christ. Without living to Jesus, our dying to Him did not happen. Paul says in 2 Tim. 2:11, "If we died in Him, we will also live with Him." Living in Christ means that we have died to ourselves, we are no longer lords of our own lives. Now that we have crucified our flesh, Christ lives in us. Paul says it better than I can ever put it in Gal. 2:20, "I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me." We are dead and gone. Yet we still live, because Christ still lives. Without His resurrection, our hope is vain and void.
It is not in Christ's death that our hope lies, but in His rising that our hope lives. If Christ had died and not risen, His death and our hope would be senseless and foolish. But thankfully we can share in the words of Peter, "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In His great mercy He has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus 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." Because of His death, we are able to die with Him. Because of His resurrection, we live again with Him and will live with Him for all eternity, a promise He has given us, a promise that can never spoil or fade, but that is sealed with the power of God.
So this Easter, let us focus on the complete redemptive work of Christ, the Man who lived to die in our place, so that we can not only die with Him, but to live in Him.