Easter – the celebration of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead. If Jesus was just an ordinary man, and if we could accept the miracle of His resurrection, we might be happy for Him. We might say, “How wonderful for Him! To receive a new lease on life! To be reunited with the ones whom He loved, and who loved Him.”
As it is, Jesus is not just an ordinary man. He is our Saviour. He came to earth as our legal representative. Whatever He did, He did for us, on our behalf. We who are under His legal representation share in the benefits of His redeeming work.
Today we focus upon the Easter message—the resurrection of Christ. Inasmuch as we share in all His benefits, we may ask the question: “How does Christ’s resurrection benefit us?”
Let me state from the outset that the resurrection of Christ has a great effect upon us. Not just in the life to come, but already here in this life. For the gospel of Easter is not just that Christ lives; the gospel of Easter is that Christ lives … in me!
What is so marvellous about the fact that Christ lives in me? To answer that, I need to consider what I am like if Christ does not live in me. If Christ does not live in me, then I am like a withered branch that is incapable of doing any good. Worse than that—I am inclined to all evil. Without Christ living in me, every imagination of my heart is only and always evil. In a word, I am spiritually dead. Without Christ living in me, I am like a rotting corpse that produces nothing but a putrefied stench, an evil aroma in the nostrils of God.
Without Christ, my life is miserable. For sin brings misery. There is no reward for disobedience to God’s law—only heartache and grief. Hatred, jealousy, envy harden a man’s heart and destroy meaningful relationships. Sexual perversity may gratify the desires of the flesh, but it leaves the soul feeling dirty and cheap. Greed wants more and more, but is never satisfied. There is no pleasure or reward derived from a life of sin, but only misery and sorrow. And such is my life without Christ. It is a life of sin and therefore a life of sorrow.
But all this has changed with the resurrection of Christ. Just as my old sinful nature was crucified with Christ on the cross, so I was raised with Christ to newness of life. Consider the following texts:
Galatians 6:4-6: “But let each one examine his own work, and then he will have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another. For each one shall bear his own load. Let him who is taught the word share in all good things with him who teaches.”
Galatians 2:20: “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”
Gal 6:14: “But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.”
Eph 2:4-6: “But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.”
Col 2:20: “Therefore, if you died with Christ from the basic principles of the world, why, as though living in the world, do you subject yourselves to regulations; 3:1 If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. 3:3 For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.”
Easter does not only assure me of the resurrection of my body when Christ returns on His great day – Easter has made possible the resurrection of my soul now already. Christ lives in me, and the life I live I live by faith in the Son of God. Sin no longer dominates my life. Sin is no longer my master that rules my heart and mind, nor my mouth and hands. The old nature has been put to death. I have received a new nature through Christ who dwells in me. Now my life is dominated by Christ, my King who rules me through His Word and Spirit. Now, by the grace of the indwelling Christ I am able to do good. I once was a dead branch, but now that I am in Christ I am alive. I am a fruitful branch. For Christ said, “He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit.”
Listen to how Paul describes the fruits of the Spirit, which can also be called the fruits of Easter, for these are the fruits of the soul that is raised to new life: “Love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Gal 5:23), “goodness, righteousness, and truth” (Eph 5:9).
Easter has made it possible for me to live and bear these fruits. For “by His power we too are raised up to a new life” (LD 17 Heid Cat).
What joy this new life gives. What peace and contentment there is in keeping the commandments of God.
Just as a life of sin brings much sorrow and sadness, grief and misery, so the life of holiness brings joy and gladness and satisfaction.
Here is the good news of Easter then—not only that Christ lives, but that He lives in me. Christ is risen—Hallelujah! And I am raised with Christ—again Hallelujah!
by A van Delden (minister emeritus of the FRC Mundijong). This article was first published in Una Sancta on 11 April 1998 and is republished here with Rev van Delden’s permission.