Reflecting on the Resurrection

Tony Sammut   -  

Friends, even though this was one of the most unusual ways we’ve ever had to celebrate Easter weekend, the miracle of Jesus’ resurrection remains as true and unchanging today as it did on that first Easter morning.  And Jesus is still alive and at His work to make all things new.   Though much in our lives has changed in the last few weeks, these things have not.

In fact, because of the Resurrection, it means that even though life brings currents of change, fear, and anxiety, we live in an ocean of certainty, security, and hope.  Because Jesus’ resurrection has not only made our future secure, He has given whole new meaning, purpose and power to our present.

So this week, our Community Bible Reading will take us through some of the beautiful realities that we live in today, because Jesus was raised from the dead and He is alive today.  Our hope is that you will have some time to reflect, rejoice, and respond in worship as you take time each day this week to ponder the weight of the Resurrection as the anchor for your soul!  And our prayer is that, as we were reminded from Easter Sunday’s sermon…

The living Jesus will explain himself to you, will make sense of your (and others’) suffering, and will show you how He is making dead things alive again!!

He is risen indeed!

Day 1: Ephesians 1:15-23

The resurrected Jesus is the One who explains Himself, His ways, and purposes to us.  So the apostle Paul prayed for just that: that the eyes of our hearts may be enlightened in order that we may know the hope to which has called us, the riches of our glorious inheritance in His holy people, and His incomparably great power for those who believe.  This power (available to us) is one and the same power that raised Jesus from the dead.  Do you believe that?

Take some time this morning to both reflect on this prayer, but also to pray it.  This is a prayer, asking “the God of our Lord Jesus Christ” to explain what the resurrection actually means for us – to enlighten the eyes of our hearts.  Are you feeling hopeless?   Then ask Him to help you understand the hope you have been invited into.  Are you feeling poor and needy?  Then ask Him to help you see what rich things that have been given to you.  Are you feeling powerless?  Then ask Him to help you grasp the incomparably great power for those who believe.

Day 2: Romans 6:1-14

The resurrected Jesus is the One who gives us a new resurrection life!  And that new life begins today, not merely after we die.  In fact, each day of the journey with the living Jesus is one learning to live in the new life He has given us; learning to leave behind our old life, with its old ways – because those ways are as good as dead.

Reflect on the call of the resurrected Jesus to you through this passage.

Ask him: What old, dead ways do you want me to leave behind or put to death?  How have they been keeping me a slave?

Ask him to lead you into the new life and new ways that His resurrection has opened to you.

Day 3: Romans 8:1-17

The Spirit is the great gift of the Resurrection that is now given to us.  Somehow, the resurrection opened the door for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit onto all of God’s children.  And now, the same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead, lives in us (8:11)!

Lives.  In. Us.  The Spirit has taken up residence, found a home, made a permanent dwelling place.  Not just near us.  Not just with us.  But in us.  And that’s right, us.  Not them, or him or her.  But, You.  And Me.

The Spirit of God – the same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead – wants to take up residence in you, and fill you with such power and hope and love, that you would know you are as much a beloved child of God as Jesus is (8:16); that you are somehow a rightful heir to all that belongs to Jesus (8:17); and that the same Spirit that raised Him from the dead lives in you.

Take some time to “sit” in these truths, asking Jesus to help make sense of them to you.  Let them wash over your mind and your heart.  Let them sink into your perspective, even in light of the challenges, fears, or anxieties you may be facing today.

Day 4: Phil 3:10-14

Experiencing suffering and sorrow, to one degree or another, is an almost certainty for most of us.  But what does it mean to participate in the sufferings of Christ (3:10)?  The incredible truth is that He has participated in our sufferings first – through his life and death.  And He overcame suffering and death through his resurrection.  So what might it look like to invite Him into your sufferings?  Into your grief?  Into your sense of betrayal?  Into your loss?  Into your pain?

Ask the risen Jesus to come into your sufferings.  To show you how He shares your sufferings and heartaches with you.  And to begin to make sense of them.  As He does that, be open to how He may even want to use your experiences of suffering to empower you to be an agent of new life for others as well.

Day 5: 1 Corinthians 15

This is a well known chapter of the New Testament, referred to by many as “The Resurrection Chapter.”  In it, the Apostle Paul unpacks a number of points about the resurrection:  its historicity, its implications for our future, its power as the foundation for his own willingness to suffer in the present, and even a pretty sweet rundown of what our own resurrection bodies will be like.

But one word in this chapter is so striking it’s worth stopping on for a bit: firstfruits.

Paul says, “But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.”

“Firstfruits” is a farming term.  It refers to the very beginning of harvest time, when the very first fruits or vegetables are beginning to ripen.  Imagine taking a bite of that first ripe apple from an orchard, or that first ripe tomato from a garden.  There’s a particular joy to the first fruits.  It’s finally seeing a long awaited and hoped for result.  But it’s more than that – it’s the first sign of all the rest of the harvest that is to come.  Because there will be even more.  The firstfruits are just the beginning.

Jesus’ resurrection is the “firstfruits of all those who have fallen asleep”.  Do you know what this means??  It means there is a particular and beautiful joy we have that Jesus was raised from the dead.  It was a long awaited hope, and it is an incredible thing to see and know that Jesus is risen indeed!!  But it’s even more than that.  It’s actually a sign that there’s even more to come.  Because of the miracle of Jesus’ resurrection, it means that we are in store for many more resurrection miracles as well!  In fact, a whole harvest of resurrections!!  All of the followers of Jesus.  What a miracle that will be!!  Paul can barely put it to words – every part of our bodies will be remade – in glory, in power, in splendor, imperishable.

When we see that – the full harvest of all that Jesus’ resurrection has started – we won’t be able help but sing, “Where O death is your victory, where O death is your sting?  Death has been swallowed up in victory!!”

Allow Jesus to take your imagination on a trip through prayer.  Imagine what the “full harvest” of ALL his resurrected followers will look like.  Imagine what the full experience of living under His victorious reign will feel like.  Imagine the freedom, and love, and glory.   Worship the One who is our firstfruits.  And ask him to give you what you need to persevere in your labour today, “because you know that your labour in the Lord is not in vain” (15:58).