Life Out of Death
We will celebrate Easter on April 17, and ponder again the wonder of the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. I am often struck by the words of the writer to the Hebrews when he refers to the resurrected Jesus as having “the power of an indestructible life” (Hebrews 7:16). Paul echoes that same truth as it relates to believers in his instruction about the resurrection in 1 Corinthians 15. He speaks of the resurrection of Jesus as the “firstfruits” of those who have fallen asleep (v. 20), saying that “when he [returns], those who belong to him” (v. 23) will also be “made alive” (v. 22). In other words, his resurrection from the dead is the first of a great “harvest” of resurrection, in which all those through the ages whose hope has been in God will be raised to new life. That new, resurrected life which is given to all who believe, Paul goes on to say, is also indestructible. He says, “The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable” (v. 42).
The thing that strikes me about this is the wonderful truth that the resurrection life we look forward to as believers is exponentially greater than the life we have. This life is “a vapor, that appears for a little while and then vanishes away” (James 4:14); resurrection life is imperishable, indestructible. Paul also points out other contrasts between this life and the resurrection life that awaits us: dishonor and glory; weakness and power; and natural and spiritual. The witness of Scripture, then, is that the life to come is exponentially greater than this life.
The Bible also establishes the pattern by which we take hold of the resurrected life that awaits us. Paul sums it up, again in 1 Corinthians 15, when he says, “What you sow does not come to life unless it dies” (v. 36). In other words, resurrected life does not come out of life, but out of death. Jesus established this pattern himself by willingly surrendering his life, emptying himself to become a servant, and humbling himself to the point of death (Philippians 2:7-8); and because he willingly surrendered his life in this way, “God has highly exalted him, and bestowed on him the name that is above every name…” (v. 9). The pattern Christ established by his own life, then, is this: weakness is the way to power; humility is the way to glory; sacrifice is the way to exaltation, and death is the way to life. He then said to all who would be his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it” (Matthew 16:24-25).
That logic, of life out of death, strength out of weakness, glory out of humility, and security through surrender, stands in sharp contrast to the world’s way of thinking about life. In the world’s view, life must be preserved, rights must be secured and respect must be demanded. The way of surrender, the way of Christ, looks like weakness to the world; but God promises it is in fact the way to a life that is exponentially more powerful, more wonderful, more glorious, than anything this life can give.
So, brothers and sisters, when you suffer injustice, when you are wronged, when you are humiliated, when you are unfairly judged, when you grieve and the losses you experience seem to threaten to take everything you hold dear; when you lose your life, take heart! For the afflictions of this life are “preparing for us an eternal weight of glory that is beyond comparison” (2 Corinthians 4:17)!
Pastor Jon EnrightApril 1, 2022