Jesus is the Resurrection

We have a monthly Women's Breakfast at church, and this year we are discussing the Names of Jesus.   The current name is "Jesus is the Resurrection," which is appropriate with Easter this weekend. Each month we will cover three basic questions:
  • What does this Name teach me about Jesus?
  • How does that impact me?
  • How does that impact my world?

Would you join us on this journey?

I’ve heard it said before that the most important thing about you is what you believe about God, so I wanted to take some time to explore the character and nature of Jesus and how that impacts us in our everyday lives. I feel like sometimes, on one hand, you have this Jesus and this Bible, and on the other hand you have real life and real problems and real pain, and there can be a disconnect between the two.

How do you apply this Jesus to real life, to my life and those around me? What about His character and nature, His story, will help me get through this problem? Can I really find my hope in Him, and is Jesus alone really enough?

These are some of the questions I’d like to address with the topic set before us this year. I keep coming back to these verses in Romans 12:

So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.

What does this Name teach me about Jesus?

Jesus is the Resurrection. This Name in particular is among my personal favorites, but it’s also at the crux of the Christian faith we hold dear. Just a fun little fact for you: while the word crux means a vital, basic, decisive, or pivotal point, it also means a cross. That’s no coincidence.

When you think about it, the Resurrection is THE MOST important thing that Jesus did, because it proved that He was GOD. He promised to raise from the dead after three days, and He did! And that changes everything. The resurrection makes him more then just a prophet, more then just a good man or wise teacher, more then just a lunatic. It makes Him fully human, because He died, but also fully God, because He rose again. Just like he said.

This sets Christianity apart from all the other religions of the world, because our God did something that none of them have been able to—He resurrected. He did the impossible. We serve a God who, instead of giving us a plethora of rules to obey and practices to comply with until our dying day in order to prove our worth, chose to leave His perfect place in heaven, live among us, and die for us, while we were still sinners.

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8

While we were nothing. Nobody. He did all the work for us, because of His great love.

In John 11:25-26 Jesus says, I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?

How does that impact me?

Jesus offers us life. True life. Life that transcends the material and physical and temporal that will one day melt away. In the resurrection, He gives us a hope and a future. A promise that one day, all things will be made new. Because Jesus is in the business of the impossible—bringing dead things back to life.

What in your life today needs raised from the dead?

Dead dreams?
Dead marriages?
Dead financial situations?
Dead family relationships?
Dead sense of purpose?
Dead self-worth?

He has the power to breathe new life into any an every situation if we earnestly seek Him. And that’s the other side of this coin, the side that’s much harder to swallow. The side of the coin that feels sharp against the skin. Sharp like a nail pressing into the palm of a hand, or the delicate skin on the top of a foot. Sharp like a massive wooden cross digging into the flesh of an exposed shoulder.

We as Christians get so excited about the Resurrection, and rightly so. But what we often forget is that before a resurrection, there must be death. Surrender. A death to self.

With the Easter season comes Lent, and if I’m totally honest, I didn’t really understand the true meaning of Lent until I was in college. I grew up Catholic, so everyone participated, or at least said they did, and even the school cafeteria served cheese pizza and fish sandwiches on Friday. But I didn’t get the point. To me, it just seemed like another item to add to the “works resume” we were supposed to be compiling to hand in on judgement day, where we would apply for a position in heaven based on merit.

But in college the meaning was finally explained to me in a way that I understood—Lent was a fasting in some form. A giving up of something we love, something we have grown to depend on, or maybe even something we idolize—and replacing it instead with Jesus for 40 days. So that when we have a craving for the item, when we are desiring it or feeling the pain that it’s absence has created in our lives, we would reach for Jesus instead. We would depend on and desire Him instead. We would seek Him to fill the void.

So my personality being as it is, I didn’t just give up one thing, I gave up three things that were very near and dear to my heart: Dr. Pepper, Ranch dressing, and fast food. I survived on Dr. Pepper, dipped almost everything in Ranch dressing, and made many a midnight run to the local Wendy’s, which was pretty much the only thing that was open after midnight in the small town. Food seemed like the right choice, as it’s a vital component of the social environment that is college. Hanging out revolved around food and the “Freshman 15” was a real phenomenon that was only exasperated by the all-you-can-eat-buffets that comprised every single meal in the cafeteria.

And let me tell you, the first couple days were HARD. After I survived the first week, the emotional ache eased up a bit, but just a little. As the days crept by, slowly it did become easier. My eating habits changed to accommodate the loss, and I was much more aware of my dependence on the Lord. Every time I thought about one of those food items, my thoughts immediately turned to the Lord. To thanking Him, praising Him, asking Him to fill me with the Bread of Life.

Come day 40 and the close of Lent, my friends and I made the drive down the road to Wendy’s and brought back some Dr. Pepper, a greasy cheeseburger and fries with Ranch dipping sauce. I was so excited to bite into that hot, juicy burger, savoring the taste in my mouth, and take a long swig of that sweet, carbonated drink. It was good, but afterwards, when every last morsel was gone, I was left curled in the fetal position on the floor. I had never felt so sick in my life.

And you know, friends, sometimes it’s only when we take a step back from the things we think we love, the things we depend on to make us feel good, the things we think we can’t live without, that we realize at the end of the day, all they really do is make us sick.

The Resurrection is about taking that step. It’s about picking up that heavy cross and carrying it, one step at a time. Even though it hurts. Even though it’s tearing into the flesh on your shoulder. Even though you know that at the end of the treacherous journey, you will have to nail your desires, your dreams, your relationships, or whatever it is, to the cross and let them die there. Because it’s only after they die that they can be restored and redeemed. That you will finally be able to taste life that is truly life and say that it. is. good. God is good.

How does that impact my world?

To sum it up in one word: HOPE. 

We serve a God with whom all things are possible--death could not hold him down! He is Risen! There is hope for a dying world and a lost people, and we get to be a part of the epic love story that God has written for this place. We are equipped with a unique story, unique gifts, and unique connections for such a time as this.

But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect... 1 Peter 3:15

If you look up Lent in the dictionary, you will find that, besides the Christian season of preparation for Easter, Lent is also the past tense of lend. To lend is to grant the use of (something) on condition that it or its equivalent will be returned. And I think that especially during this season, this sentiment can serve as an excellent reminder for us as Christians.

Galatians 2:20 says, I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

Let the full weight of that verse soak in for a moment.

Another much like it is 1 Corinthians 6:19-20, which says, Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.

Essentially, the Lord has Lent us these bodies, these lives. He has done so with purpose, and for His glory. The question is, are you laying down your life and following Him? Because one day, we will all stand before Him, and we will need to give an account for what we have done with the life that He lent us. The time He lent us. The money He lent us. The body, the gifts, the resources He lent us. 

What will you tell Him?

As we can see from His example on the cross, Christ didn’t lay down His life for Himself. No. He laid down His life for all mankind. And while only He can save humanity in it’s entirety, we too are called to lay down our lives for others, not for ourselves.

So this impact on the world around you, this death to self and subsequent resurrection, starts with as little as one. One person, one interaction, one day at a time. A no to yourself, your desires, your pride, and a yes to someone else instead. 

He must become greater; I must become less. John 3:30

Friends, what could you lay down today so others may live? 

I encourage you to examine your lives this weekend and think about what you can give. What comforts and securities you can let go of in order to bless others. If you're looking for a place to start, here are some ideas:

The "Plus One" Concept

How $5/week Can Save Two Lives

Have a blessed Easter!