Can you imagine how Jesus’ disciples were feeling that weekend? We read, farther head in Luke, that some of them decided to leave Jerusalem. They had believed that Jesus would be the one to redeem Israel from Roman occupation—to throw the bums out. But now Jesus was dead, they had given up, and so, there wasn’t much sense in sticking around. The new kingdom reality they had dreamed of had died with Jesus. So they just walked away. They didn’t yet understand all that Jesus’ death meant, and they certainly weren’t expecting him to return from the dead.
Some of the women, who were followers of Jesus, had gone out to the tomb and found it empty that same morning. They had seen angels, who told them that Jesus was alive! The women had told the other disciples, who also found the tomb empty. But they still couldn’t believe that Jesus wasn’t dead anymore. When they realized the truth, that Jesus really was alive, it changed everything. THE RESURRECTION CHANGED EVERYTHING!
Everything changed for them because this changed the whole world as they knew it. No longer were they tied to the Old Covenant system of animal sacrifices, and ritual clensings. No longer did a high-priest have to intercede on their behalf. Everything, absolutely everything they knew; about who they were, about their relationship to God, about every power and authority they’d ever dealt with, just about everything that people never expect to change, changed for them. THE RESURRECTION CHANGED EVERYTHING!
But how is Jesus’ resurrection good news for us? Does Jesus’ resurrection change everything for us? We can look for some explanation in Scripture. Paul wrote to the Romans about the old life:
We know that the law is holy; but I am not. I have been sold to be a slave of sin. I don’t understand what I do. I don’t do what I want to do. Instead, I do what I hate to do. I do what I don’t want to do. So I agree that the law is good. As it is, I am no longer the one who does these things. It is sin living in me that does them. I know there is nothing good in my desires controlled by sin. I want to do what is good, but I can’t. I don’t do the good things I want to do. I keep on doing the evil things I don’t want to do. I do what I don’t want to do. But I am not really the one who is doing it. It is sin living in me that does it.
Here is the law I find working in me. When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. Deep inside me I find joy in God’s law. But I see another law working in me. It fights against the law of my mind. It makes me a prisoner of the law of sin. That law controls me. What a terrible failure I am! Who will save me from this sin that brings death to my body? I give thanks to God who saves me. He saves me through Jesus Christ our Lord.
So in my mind I am a slave to God’s law. But sin controls my desires. So I am a slave to the law of sin.
Romans 7:14-25 (NIRV)
God has given us new life through Christ, Paul explained this transition when he wrote to the church at Ephesus.
You were living in your sins and lawless ways. But in fact you were dead. You used to live as sinners when you followed the ways of this world. You served the one who rules over the spiritual forces of evil. He is the spirit who is now at work in those who don’t obey God. At one time we all lived among them. Our desires were controlled by sin. We tried to satisfy what they wanted us to do. We followed our desires and thoughts. God was angry with us like he was with everyone else. That’s because of the kind of people we all were. But God loves us deeply. He is full of mercy. So he gave us new life because of what Christ has done. He gave us life even when we were dead in sin. God’s grace has saved you. God raised us up with Christ. He has seated us with him in his heavenly kingdom. That’s because we belong to Christ Jesus. He has done it to show the riches of his grace for all time to come. His grace can’t be compared with anything else. He has shown it by being kind to us. He was kind to us because of what Christ Jesus has done. God’s grace has saved you because of your faith in Christ. Your salvation doesn’t come from anything you do. It is God’s gift. It is not based on anything you have done. No one can brag about earning it. We are God’s creation. He created us to belong to Christ Jesus. Now we can do good works. Long ago God prepared these works for us to do.
Ephesians 2 (NIRV)
Everything changed for us because we get to live a different kind of life. Not a perfect life, not yet, not here, but a vastly different life, one with the Holy Spirit as our guide. That’s something that our Old Testament counterparts didn’t have. There’s a lot we can learn and discuss in Scripture; but if we never take our heads out the Bible, to interact with those around us, we miss the application part of the message. For the Resurrection didn’t just change the pecking-order in Heaven, nor did it just let us off the hook—as so many seem to think. The Resurrection was bigger than that, THE RESURRECTION CHANGED EVERYTHING!
Our old nature has died with Christ, we were in the resurrection with him, our old nature has no place. Jesus’ resurrection gives us victory over our old ways, and power to live in a new way. Those old behaviors are replaced with characteristics of God! Compassion! Faithfulness! Forgiveness! Empathy! We can cry with those who hurt, and rejoice with those who are happy! THE RESURRECTION CHANGED EVERYTHING by giving us the freedom, and the heart, and the authority to do what’s right! Not by saddling us with responsibility—that’s the old way. But rather, by allowing us to be the person we would want to be!
You wouldn’t know that, if you visited most congregations this morning. Oh sure, you’d hear a message of resurrection. But you’ll still hear most of the Church talking about Hell, eternal torment, and a hope of maybe going to Heaven—under the right circumstances; but they’re missing the message—the good news. The message to those Jewish believers at the end of the Old Covenant was that the Kingdom of God was at hand, we talked about that a few weeks back; but the Resurrection message, is really that you now have the power, the freedom, and the ability to do right. To love the Lord you God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind; and you neighbor as yourself. Now go do it!