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You Died and Rose Again!

One of my favorite writers, Michael Horton, points out that the Christian faith is a “good news story” in that it is a “news” story of something that happened – Jesus rose from the dead – and it is good news! While most news stories don’t involve us (I don’t think I have ever seen myself on the news), this story is one that is also about us, as when Jesus died and rose again, so did we. That is right, Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday is not just about Jesus’s death and resurrection but about our death and resurrection!

I wouldn’t make such a crazy and outrageous claim unless we found it in the Scriptures – and this idea is found all over the Apostle Paul’s writings. For example, he says in Galatians 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ. I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.” Christ’s crucifixion is also our crucifixion. Colossians 3:3 says, “For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.” You died with Christ! But perhaps Paul takes this theme up the most in the book of Romans, telling the Romans (and us) in Romans 6 that believers were baptized into his death in order that “just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in the newness of life” (Romans 6:4). Paul continues to note that if we have been “united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that the old self was crucified with him” and that “if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him.” (Romans 6:7-8). We have risen with him!

The point that Paul makes with the idea that we have dead and risen with Christ is this: “So you must also consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions” (Romans 6:11-12). Christ’s death means that we have died to sin (a similar point appears in Galatians 5:24). The Heidelberg Catechism explores this truth in question and answer format in Q & A 43:

“Q43: What further benefit do we receive from Christ’s sacrifice and death on the cross?

A43: By Christ’s power, our old selves are crucified, put to death, and buried with him, so that the evil desires of the flesh may no longer rule us, but that instead we may offer ourselves as a sacrifice to gratitude to him.”

I realize that you might be thinking, “But I still struggle with sin” or wonder if you are called to simply turn from sin and obey God all in your own strength now. But the wonderful news is that just as you died with Christ, you also have been raised with the same power: “But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells 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 8:11-12). The Spirit rose Jesus from the dead, and the Spirit raises us into this new life, enabling us to put to death the sin that remains. In one sense, the Christian is life of continued resurrection!

This idea is found in the Heidelberg Catechism as well, Q & A 45:

“Q45: How does Christ’s resurrection benefit us?

A45: First, by his resurrection he has overcome death, so that he might make us share in the righteousness he obtained for us by his death. Second, by his power we too are already raised to a new life. Third, Christ’s resurrection is a sure pledge to us of our blessed resurrection”

In his book The Historical Jesus of the Gospels, atheist turned Christian Bible scholar Craig Keener notes that one of his biggest objections to Christianity before he was a Christian was that belief in the resurrection made no difference to those who believed in it. Seeing the death and resurrection of Jesus as our death and resurrection should make a huge difference in our life – it gives us hope as we face death but also hope for transformation, for putting to death the sin that is found in our lives (see Colossians 3:5; Ephesians 4:22-24) and living ones that are devoted to him through the work of the life-giving Spirit.

You died. But you are risen, you are risen indeed! This is your story as well. May our stories speak to others about the power of the cross and the resurrection – that it was not just an event that happened 2,000 years ago but also an event that happens in our lives! We don’t just celebrate it once a year but each and every day.

Questions about the Bible or theology? Please contact Pastor Brian at