POWER FROM THE GRAVE
“Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me” – Matthew 28:18 (NIV)
Death of Hope
Imagine how the disciples felt when Jesus Christ was arrested. They could not believe that their master, performer of great miracles: raiser of the dead, healer of the sick, feeder of thousands and the very hope of the teeming masses of the oppressed people would actually be arrested. He had not done anything but because the powers that be did not like His message they arrested Him. They tried Him through a “kangaroo” court (Annas & Caiaphas broke all the rules for a fair trial) and then sent Him to Pilate with the charges that Jesus was subverting the nation (Luke 23: 1-2)! They prevailed upon Pilate who was too concerned about his post to do the right thing to condemn Jesus to death in exchange for Barabbas, one who was actually in prison for insurrection and murder (Luke 23:23-25). Then He was led away and crucified. The disciples were shattered. Their Master had died; He had died a humiliating death; all hope of redemption was also dead. What a waste! Or so they thought!
He is Risen
“But they did not believe the women because their words seemed to them like nonsense (Luke 24: 11). This was the reaction of the disciples when they were told that Jesus Christ had risen from the dead even though Jesus had told them on countless occasions that He would be killed but would rise again. Later they went to the tomb themselves and saw that it was empty, but before they could sink further into despair, Jesus showed Himself to them, ate with them, talked to them, walked with some of them and allowed others to touch him and know that he was for real. You see the grave could not hold Him because as the creator, He has power over the grave.
More Power Over All things
“Out of the grave He arose with a mighty triumph o’er His foes, He arose a victor from the dark domain” goes a hymn of the resurrection, indicating that Jesus Christ has more power out of the grave than even when He lived and walked on earth. In His resurrection He has power over time, space and place. He has power over the living and the dead; over “principalities and powers. But even more beautiful is that this power of Jesus is imparted to us who believe. Jesus Christ, resurrected, is God’s clear statement that just as Christ passed from death to life, so we too who believe have passed from sin to righteousness – “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” – 2 Cor. 5:21 – Jesus died so that we may have the life that God always purposed for us to have. A life filled with His own goodness and love. A life of power over evil. A life that reflects the attributes of God – love, justice, equity, peace, compassion, mercy etc.
A lot of times we behave as if the Crucifixion and Resurrection of Jesus Christ are just one of those things that happened and that it has no real value for us as individuals. If this were so then why would God have gone to such great lengths to show us that He places great value on a right relationship with Him. A relationship whose outflow is a right relationship with one another manifested in a transformed life. God knows that by ourselves, it is impossible to be good and that is why He has given us His very nature through Christ, so that in Him we will become “God’s workmanship created in Christ to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do’ (Ephesians 2:10)
WHAT NOW – Living As children of Light
Since God has paid such a high price for our salvation: – “For you know that it was not for perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect” – 1 Peter 1:18-19
– it stands to reason that there are specific ways in which we can show that we have been changed inside out – we have become (a new creation). “We are exhorted to throw off our evil nature the old you that was a partner in your evil way rotten through and through, full of lust and sham. Now your attitudes and thoughts must all be constantly changing for the better. Yes, you must be a new and different person, holy and good. Clothe yourself with this new nature. Stop lying to each other; tell the truth, for we are parts of each other and when we lie to each other we are hurting ourselves. If you are angry, don’t sin by nursing your grudge. Don’t let the sun go down with you still angry; get over it quickly; for when you are angry you give a mighty foothold to the devil.
If anyone is stealing he must stop and begin using those hands of his for honest work so he can give to others in need. Don’t use bad language. Say only what is good and helpful to those you are talking to, and what will give them a blessing. Don’t cause the Holy Spirit sorrow by the way you live. Remember, He is the one who marks you to be present on that day when salvation from sin will be complete. Stop being mean, bad-tempered and angry. Quarrelling, harsh words, and dislike of others should have no place in your lives. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God has forgiven you because you belong to Christ. Follow God’s example in everything you do just as a much loved child imitates his father.” (Ephesians 4:22 – 5:1; Living Bible)
When the disciples saw the Risen Lord, Jesus Christ, their (dead) hope was reborn. They knew that nothing could ever change the plan of God for the redemption of man and creation. Their zeal to declare this glorious hope was fired when they committed themselves fully to doing what God, through Christ, has called them to do knowing that they are fully equipped for the task by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. By the celebration of Easter we too acknowledge that the life ahead of us should be lived in glorious hope because of the power of the Holy Spirit who lives in us:
Points to Ponder
1. To those who Rule: “No king is saved by the size of his army; no warrior escapes by his great strength. A horse is a vain hope for deliverance; despite all its great strength it cannot save.” (Psalm 33:16-17)
2. To Judges: “Consider carefully what you do, because you are not judging for man but for the Lord, who is with you whenever you give a verdict. Now let the fear of the LORD be upon you. Judge carefully, for with the LORD our God there is no injustice or partially or bribery.” (2 Chronicles 19; 6-7)
3. To Pastors: “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.” Preach the word; be prepared in season an out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage – with great patience and careful instruction. But you, keep you head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry. (2Timothy 2:15 & 4:2&5)
4. To you and me “So you see, it isn’t enough just to have faith. You must also do good to prove that you have it. Faith that doesn’t show itself by good works is no faith at all – it is dead and useless. James 2:17 (Living Bible).
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