Do you know the real secret of power for life’s journey?
Why do we find ourselves living such powerless lives in the face of life’s big challenges?
Welcome to Part Three of the Life’s Journey series for Easter 2021 – Easter Sunday
Christ the Lord is risen today. Hallelujah! Today is the day for exuberant partying, rejoicing and shouting from the rooftops: Jesus Christ is risen. He’s alive, and he is Lord!
Paul writes of the Son of David who ‘was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord…’ Rom 1:4
On Easter Sunday, all the strands of the Easter events come together and make amazing sense. Let’s see if we can take the disciples’ journey through the week and the journey of Jesus and see how they were woven together for our sake. Power is found here. Real power.
The Unexpected in Life
Life is totally unpredictable for every one of us. Just look at some famous last words, such as the unforgettable ‘I feel much better now!’ Or the accident victim, happy one moment and whose life was dramatically changed in the next.
Life seemed to be over for the disciples. They were defeated by events, by the conspiracy of religious leaders, the fickleness of people and the weakness of Pilate.
Jesus had warned the disciples again and again that he would die in Jerusalem and be raised again on the third day, but they still had not grasped it. When he died, they found themselves totally powerless to handle the situation. Peter was even terrified of a servant girl.
A lot of Death
Here’s the list.
On Thursday night, brave boisterous boastful Peter died of shame as he realised the weakness, cowardice and self-deception that could no longer be covered up by his bluster. He hid away, even from the other disciples.
The other 10 were also in hiding, dying inside of a dangerous mix of fear, confusion and dread. Their leader, their hope, their plans, their joy – snatched away. Nothing meaningful was left; just a broken heart, broken spirit, and despair. Even doubt seemed too weak a description for how they were feeling. Life as they had known it was over. Did they remember the scripture:- ‘Hope deferred makes the heart sick’? But this wasn’t just hope deferred; it was utterly destroyed.
On Friday morning, Judas hanged himself after he recognised what he had done, and his horror, shame and self-disgust were too much for him. He knew himself personally accountable for having betrayed Jesus.
And what of Mary, Joseph and the women who watched the crucifixion from afar? Was Mary’s heart pierced too by that soldier’s sword?
The disciples’ thoughts were probably similar to our own, had we been in their circumstances:
a) Why are we suddenly so abandoned?
b) Where is the voice to listen to? Why is there only silence?
c) What about the promises of God?
d) ‘Fear not’; are you joking?
e) ‘I will never leave you or forsake you.’ But that’s exactly what you have done.
f) I cannot trust or believe in anyone anymore. Judas, one of us, betrayed Jesus. We, his close companions, were all weak and we left Jesus to fend for himself.
g) God’s word seems totally unreliable and it turns out that Jesus was nothing more than a charismatic teacher after all.
Have you ever found yourselves thinking any of those thoughts? All of them? It would be unrealistic to think that we never find those thoughts going through our minds. The disciples were going through a fully human experience, but to a depth we will never know.
Our Own Desperate Questions
What’s going on when everything seems lost? When it seems as though God is not only on a different page, but in a different book? When he seems silent? Why does he seem to abandon us and leave us to face the enemy alone when we are so weak, tired and powerless?
Why does he stay silent when we are desperate for help, for direction; when we are confused and don’t know what to do?
Where do we find power for living?
We yearn for a baptism of power that is greater than our own in order to cope with our lives and circumstances. Yet we so often find power to be the thing that others have, rather than us, which diminishes our self-esteem and self-confidence.
We see power exercised around us and see the old adage at work: power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. We see the political and institutional usage of power around us, but we also see power at work everywhere. The boss has power over the worker; The ‘haves’ have power over the ‘have nots’; The big neighbour has power over the weaker neighbour; The people trafficker has power over the trafficked.. The bully has power over the victims. The supplier has power over the addict. And so on… and on…
It is easy to feel powerless, insignificant, victimised, alone…
Jesus on a Journey with the Disciples
For Jesus, everything was different. While the disciples felt themselves so betrayed and abandoned by him, he was embracing death for them so that they might truly live. He was working out of sight on their behalf, destroying Satan’s power and robbing him of his weapons.
He had experienced separation so that they might be adopted and reconciled. Though he was rich, he became poor, that those who were poor might become rich.
While the disciples suffered from their sense of abandonment, fear and insecurity, they failed to realise that their senses were in fact deceiving them. The truth was so far removed from their understanding. Jesus was fully engaged on their behalf for their gain.
Third Day Truth
Then, on the third day the unexpected, mind-blowing words. He Lives! The Lamb of God that was slain – is alive!
They had experienced the ministry of Jesus. They had seen him raise the dead. But- for him to be raised? Can it be true? If so, he is who he said he is. For him to raise the dead was one thing. It was quite another thing to be raised to life himself. “ I can only do what I see the Father doing.’ ‘I am the resurrection and the life’. ‘The Father and the Son are one.’ The Father has raised the Son.
Countless people have asked that question: is it really true? Did Jesus come back to life? And if so, what does it mean?
Easter Sunday was the beginning of resurrection for all the disciples. They had been awakened from their darkness and fear, the blackness of lostness, into the one who lays claim to be the Light of the world. The impossible was possible. Their limited frameworks of understanding were suddenly being blown open. The very same Jesus who was crucified by the wicked hands of those around them, God raised up from the dead. He really is the Christ, the Son of God. Everything they had heard was true!
In a very recent brief interview on YouTube, the hugely influential Moral Philosopher Jordan Peterson found himself saying this:
Many intellectuals have pointed out that the claim that Jesus rose from the dead fails to distinguish him from many other mythological gods who were also raised from the dead. This ignores the fact that Jesus is a real, historical human being, not a work of imagination and fiction. In Christ the myth and the life come together. At that point he starts to break down and continued ‘And I believe it. I can’t believe that I’m saying this, but I find myself believing in him. And it’s terrifying.Jordan Peterson
The Secret of Resurrection Power
We have to enter into the place of death if we are to experience resurrection. You cannot have one without the other, and death must come first.
The cross of Christ was not an act of abandonment but of engagement. It was an act of an astonishing, foundation-shaking earthquake of self-denying, passionate, openly displayed Father’s love for all his children. For you. ‘By this we know that God loves us…’
The Stone Rolled Away
Figuratively speaking, God has acted through Jesus so that the stone which locks you into a place of darkness and imprisonment may be rolled away, if you ask.
Look at the stone in your mind’s eye and imagine what was written there.
- Your shame. Jesus had taken it upon himself and set you free.
- Fear of powers and authorities. Jesus disarmed them and led them captive.
- Death. Jesus entered into it in order to burst through the other side.
- The grave. The grave could not hold him so it cannot hold you either.
- Fear of judgement. Jesus carried your sins away on the cross so that there now no condemnation for us who are found in Jesus.
How often do we consider our own resurrection to be an experience awaiting us after death? Because he rose, we will also rise. We confess our belief in the resurrection of the dead. Yet, for the disciples, the personal transformation and power of the resurrection began on Easter Day. Its effect started immediately.
Where are you living? In Good Friday? In Easter Saturday? Or in the glory of Easter Sunday, the place of overflowing resurrection power and joy unspeakable?
The gospel, the real Good News of God, is for today. For your life in the real and present life today.
And, as if that isn’t enough, it’s for life after death as well.
Jesus still says come. He is the resurrection and the life. Come to him all you who are thirsty, and drink! Behold, he who was dead now lives – and so may you! Now! Today! This moment! Don’t delay – rush to him now and throw yourself upon him – and live in resurrection power today!
The power of the resurrection can transform your personal life and your personal circumstances, your personal world, right now! His purpose is that you walk with him, and bear fuit today with his enabling.
Don’t strive and labour anymore. Ask and receive his divine empowering.
Some helpful references (but there are so many more!)
…was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead , Jesus Christ our Lord. Romans 1:4
Weakness embraced. For Christ did not send me to baptise but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power. 1 Corinthians 1:17
For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
1 Corinthians 1:18
That I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death. Philippians 3:10
We were buried there for with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the bother, we too might walk in newness of life. Romans 6:9
If the spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his spirit who dwells in you. Romans 8:11
And he died for all, for those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised. 2 Corinthians 5:15
Likewise, my brothers, you also have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we may bear fruit for God. Romans 7:4
Thank you for raising Jesus from the dead. Loving Father, will you help me to embrace death to self, to sin and the world, and speak the word that brings me to life. Empower me each day to live within resurrection power and joy, energised by you and not by me; dependent on your power alone and not on my weak human strength.
Father, I belong to you. Please walk with me and show me how to be fruitful for you and for those around me.
I ask in the name of Jesus, who died and who lives for evermore.
Have you found another scripture that has strengthened you when you are stressed out of your mind with life’s twists and turns? Please comment and share the reference with us.
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© Roy Godwin 2021