Resurrections Can Be Confusing
I want you to imagine that you go to a dear friend’s funeral. He died suddenly, violently a few days ago. You, his other friends and family are sitting in the pews – shell shocked – waiting for the service begin. But before it does, the guy who’s supposed to have died walks in and sits down next to you.
How would you respond?
Chances are you wouldn’t even look at him or recognise him, because he’s not meant to be there. He’s supposed to be dead. He’s the guy in the coffin right? Quickly the rumour springs up -there’s a buzz around the crowd – He’s not dead.
So someone goes and pries open the coffin. It’s … empty.
Confused? Shocked? Even a little scared?
All of the above.
They Were All Confused – Resurrections Have that Effect!
So imagine how poor old Mary Magdalene felt:
But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb; and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had been lying, one at the head and the other at the feet. They said to her, Woman, why are you weeping? She said to them, They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him. When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for? Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away. Jesus said to her, Mary! She turned and said to him in Hebrew, Rabbouni! (which means Teacher). (John 20:11-15)
You have to have a chuckle – fancy mistaking the risen Jesus for … the gardener! She’s still living that one down, 2,000 years on!!
Resurrections, by and large are confusing exercises. Why? Because they’re completely unnatural. Completely! You just don’t expect them to happen. Ever. But this one did.
Then There’s that Other Resurrection …
And there’s another resurrection that Jesus is vitally interested. Yours.
Therefore we have been buried with him by baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. (Romans 6:4)
And most people find their own resurrection equally confusing. They know the theory of course, those Christians who fill the pews on Resurrection Morning each year. The theory is that because Jesus rose again, those who believe in Him have a new life which goes on for all eternity.
See how easily the theory rolls off the tongue?!
But the practice? Well that’s another thing entirely because you look around and many – dare I say, most – of Jesus’ disciples today seem to be clueless when it comes to living that new life.
Laying Hold of Your Resurrection
If you are one of His disciples, can I ask you quietly, plainly today – Are you living in the newness of life that we celebrate on Resurrection Morning? Do you have a sharpness, a clarity around your new life in Christ? Or are you still muddling around in confusion like Mary Magdalene and hosts of others?
The real, tangible, here and now expression of what happened on that amazing morning, is the newness of life in which you and I are meant to be living. And if you’re not – I’m sorry, but … listen carefully …. you are wasting your life. The new life that Jesus died and rose again to bring you.
Act 1 of Easter: Forgiveness through the death of Jesus on the Cross
Act 2 of Easter: Newness of life, through the resurrection of Jesus and the empty tomb.
In other words, the forgiveness wasn’t so we could do nothing with it. The forgiveness has a purpose in mind; reconciliation and a new life.
And your newness of life isn’t just for you either. It too has a purpose in God’s plan – to spread more life around this dying world in which we live:
So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us. So we are ambassadors for Christ, since God is making his appeal through us; we entreat you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Cor 5:17-21)
Not only do we have a new life, not only has He reconciled us to Himself – but He has entrusted us with that same message of reconciliation, making you and me ambassadors for Christ.
God’s plan is to make His appeal through you and me my friend, just as He made it through Paul and his co-workers back then.
So please, please don’t just sit there and go through the motions this Easter.
All the old things have passed away; look, everything is new … and you and I, we have a job to do.