Psalm 18:14, 19 – 29; John 20:19 - 31
We celebrate Easter every year… but resurrection is everyday. Each day God presents opportunities for renewal and rebirth, for reconciliation and celebration. Many people know that Easter is a major Christian holiday…but for believers resurrection is not a holiday, it’s a way… not just an event… or a celebration, but a way of life.
Having a resurrection mentality and spirituality means remembering that we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.
Maintaining a resurrection faith and heart felt conviction means remembering that Jesus rose and our loved ones who’ve gone before us will rise too.
Resurrection reminds us that he who overcame sin and death has the power to help overcome any challenge or circumstance in our lives as well. It is through resurrection power that we are able to have:
Faith--when we feel like we can’t make it,
Joy--when it seems we just can’t take it and,
Courage--because we know that we serve a God who is mighty and able to bring us through in the midst of it all.
We serve a Lord, who because of his love for us, humbled himself and became flesh… lived among us, experiencing our human challenges… and then died taking on the weight of our sins… your sins and mine, and the sins of all who have lived, or will ever live throughout time… but what’s more… after the price had been paid for our sins… he tricked the devil, defied death and rose again… The power of him who rose from the dead is offered to us each day, not just on Easter.
We have the power, that’s the promise, but how will we use it?
The power of the one who forgave us, is offered to us so that we might forgive even the worse personal offenses.
The power of the one who offered his only son is offered to us so that through his strength we might endure painful, and even the heart-breaking tragedies that often are a part of life in this imperfect, fallen world.
The power of him who was cursed, whipped and spit upon, and yet loved his enemies, is offered to us so that we might love our enemies as well. That’s the promise of the resurrection.
The promise of the resurrection is not only that the dead in Christ will rise again… but that we who live might experience victory now… today… this week, this year… despite all that the enemy throws our way.
Isn’t it something that the first thing that Jesus taught his disciples after he appeared and they were convinced that he had truly risen… was a lesson on forgiveness and the amazing power of forgiveness that they now had? Perhaps that’s because without resurrection power… it’s nearly impossible to do. And even though we have that power now… it’s still hard for us, isn’t it? Our slates have been wiped clean… but we continue to play offenses toward us over and over, almost as if they were tapes on rewind.
Forgiveness is one of many things resurrection power can do. When speaking of Christ’s power in his second letter to the Corinthians the apostle Paul put it this way: “(Jesus) was weak when he was nailed to the cross, he now lives in the power of God. We are weak, just as Christ was… but you will see that we will live by the power of God just as Christ does.”
Paul refers to this power not as something that is available only in eternity, or was present 2000 years ago in the upper room when Christ appeared. He declares that we can actually access and claim that power now. Paul describes resurrection power as the power to live a life free of sin. He says it is the power to stop doing evil things and live in peace. Paul describes this power, even as he explained that so many in the church are living without it. They weren’t claiming it then in Corinth, and oftimes we’re still not claiming it now.
But we need it. We need the power of the resurrection. We need the promise of the resurrection. We need to know that God did it once and he can do it again. Resurrection takes many forms.
We need it when we’re shocked and dismayed by something a medical report may say.
We need it when despite our best efforts things don’t go our way.
We need it when we are abandoned or disappointed by someone we respect or love.
We need resurrection power every day to breathe life back into our lives when our hearts are broken, heal our flesh when it is wounded, order our steps when our plans are thwarted and give us hope when death looms for us or our loves ones.
That’s when the promise of resurrection is what we must cherish and claim.
There is no way that we can share our Christian story and be effective without it. Without the promise of resurrection our beliefs are almost just like that of any major world religion. Without it, there is only so much we can accomplish.
We can be do gooders, we can be charitable, we can be wealthy, we can believe in ourselves… but in this world, all of those wonderful roads still lead to death. Without the promise of eternity… our great efforts, even when wonderful results occur, only affect this world… this temporary place. That’s why we cannot get to heaven with a list of good deeds. It is through him who was the first to rise from the dead, that we will rise again. “That great getting up morning” as some call it, where we enter a place where there’s no more pain, and no more disappointment. In our darkest moments we must remember that glory is God’s ultimate plan.
In today’s scripture we find the disciples mourning and afraid… a room that for them was once a place of fellowship and joy is now filled with sadness and remorse. That is until Jesus steps in, and according to John’s account once he stepped in the middle of their sad circle and greeted them, the next step he took was to show them his wounds. Only after seeing the wounds that he bore were they convinced that they were with their Lord.
Funny isn’t it? I would have imagined that Jesus would have been perfect with flawless skin, and not a single mar or mark. But perfect does not mean without wounds. Because of the scars that he bore even in perfection, they were unable to deny the tragedy that had occurred and thus had to accept that a true, undeniable miraculous event had taken place.
Because of the wounds, they knew for sure that that WAS their friend Jesus on the cross, and the death he died for our sins, and the pains that he bore for our redemption were real. They would not have known this or they might have doubted this if Jesus bore no wounds. He was perfected, but perfection does not mean without wounds.
That is why I say that we can claim resurrection power today although we are not perfect. We should claim it knowing that while we will still face pain in this life and may bear wounds from our past… complete restoration is on its way, and it’s a process that starts today or already has begun. We bear wounds so that the world will know that there really is a God.
The effectiveness of our testimony is in the fact that we have faced some tests. No one can be won to Christ if we fane a perfect life. But if we tell the truth, and as we are lead are transparent… people in the world around us, who do not yet know the Lord, and have not experienced his peace, will be convinced as they take note of what God has brought us through.
People want to know that we can relate to them and that we do not have perfect lives that are impossible for them to live. They want to examine our wounds in order to know for sure that what we say is true and that while we are not yet perfected, we can have joy because Jesus has done a work in us.
Have you noticed the number of people that the bible says are perfect, like Job and Noah? The King James Version says Noah was a just man… perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God. The bible says there was a man whose name was Job; and that man was perfect and upright, he feared God, and avoided evil. Yet, we all know that these were not perfect men.
After faithfully accomplishing a great task for God, Noah made a major mistake… and Job bore many wounds. They were not yet living in an age of grace, Christ had not yet come… but the bible calls them perfect because they had hearts for God in an age where faith was rare and sin was rampant.
I think it’s safe to say that we live in an age much like that. Only the added bonus is that because of Jesus we are under grace. On this side of eternity perfect does not mean without blunder it means repentant… resurrection power does not promise us a life without wounds it promises us healing… and healing is a process.
Once the disciples realized this, they were ready to go forth ministering… Jesus said, “I am sending you forth as the father sent me.” Then he breathed on them the Holy Spirit and asked them to receive it. That same Holy Spirit is available to us now through resurrection power. When Christ appeared to the disciples he stepped right into the center of the room. This was a circle of pity and pain… and suddenly Jesus was right there, in the middle. But, once Christ was at the center things changed.
We need Christ in the center of our lives too. When the power of the resurrected Jesus greets you in the midst of your disappointment and shame, and steps right in the middle of your heartache and pain… When we allow Jesus to remain at the center of our wounded lives and we remember his wounds, to which ours can never compare, it is then that we access resurrection power!
Not the power of yesterday, but the power that exists right now.
Rev. Faith Green Timmons is a native of the Detroit Metropolitan area. She is a graduate of Harvard Divinity School and Yale Divinity School. Rev. Green Timmons has worked in journalism and media ministries on television and radio and currently serves as pastor at Metropolitan United Methodist Church in Detroit, Michigan.
Copyright ©2007 Faith Green Timmons. All Rights Reserved.
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