Three ways we celebrate being raised from death to life.
Bunny rabbits sniffing through tall grass in spring. Kids excitedly hunting for eggs. Chocolate. Easter is the happy holiday that’s big enough to mark our calendars with days-off, yet somehow falls short of the grand-scale glitter of Christmas. It combines broad concepts of new life with holiday cuteness that can easily blur what we’re truly celebrating. Yet, when we dig beneath the newness of hatching chicks into the new life of Jesus, we discover that Easter celebrates great power and immense scope. While Christmas celebrates Jesus’s coming to earth, Easter celebrates His triumph over death.
There are three ways that Easter celebrates our being raised from death to life. Surrendering our lives to Jesus not only moves our eternal destiny from death to life but launches us in a new trajectory to living risen lives.
- To ‘live risen’ is to know Jesus because we stand in the new identity His gives.
- To ‘live risen’ is to change our behaviour because our new identity impacts our choices.
- To ‘live risen’ is to long for the future because we seek a home with Jesus that’s unbroken and unending.
#1 Living Risen Means a New Identity in Jesus
One of my favourite parts of Scripture are the genealogies because they’re packed with real-life names of ordinary people, just like us. Unexpected weakness. Excluded misfits. Sinners – big ones. Our dirty souls long for relationship with God yet are trapped behind bars of sin that prevent divine connection forever. Enter Jesus. For our sake He made Him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Cor 5:21) When Christ died on the cross God saw me, so now when I stand before God, He sees Christ.
It’s the great exchange of our lives and all time. Jesus stepped down from the throne room of heaven, into human skin, and onto a cross that should have been mine to bear. The reason? Not to be defeated by death, but to conquer it. When we surrender to His authority, the cleansing grace of Jesus frees our sentenced souls and they begin to pulsate with divine new life.
The apostle Paul uses the expression of being ‘in’ Christ more than any other descriptor. (2 Corinthians 5:17) Because we’re His, we’re ushered ‘in’. Relationship with God is now personally enjoyed and eternally secure because we’re adopted as one of His own. (Galatians 4:5-6) When I was credentialed to work, I was given access to the privileges associated with the costs of completing school – job options, income, and all sorts of people.
There was one snag. The quality of my work must remain ‘in good standing’ or I lose access to it all. The cost of Jesus’s work credentials us to unbridled access (Matthew 27:51) and secures our ‘good standing’ no matter how far we stray. What do we have ‘in’ Him? A relationship with Him now, eternity with Him forever, and all other privileges of being called ‘His’. His righteousness, His family, His purpose. Himself. (Colossians 2:9-10)
#2 Living Risen Means a New Way of Life
My daughter is learning how to sew and has begun to grasp the importance of using patterns. Original patterns serve as essential tools that reflect the purpose of the project and guide the project’s quality and consistency. Salvation is like that – it’s an original event and a replicating pattern. My resurrected identity in Him compels me to a pattern of resurrected living for Him. (Titus 2:11-14)
An Ambassador officially represents their home country while living in a foreign location. As God’s people destined for our heavenly home, we become ambassadors of His love by modeling the same substitutionary process He patterned for us. Because Jesus took the costly weight of sin on Himself, I can absorb the weight of sin’s afflictions on me. (1 Peter 4:12-14) I keep dying to the right to create my own identity (Galatians 2:20), and instead become a vessel for His power to rise through me. (Romans 6:5-6)
This pattern of resurrected living saturates the New Testament. We can’t live in Him, without dying to ourselves. (Galatians 2:2) We don’t walk in Him, if we’re still walking in the world. (Colossians 2) We mustn’t place new wine into skins that are old. (Mark 2:22) We lose our lives to find them. (Mark 8) We’re reconciled when we’ve repented. (2 Corinthians 5) We can’t die to sin and live in it at the same time. (Rom 6:2-4) Before the disciples could follow Christ, they had to deny themselves. (Luke 9) Over and over Scripture insists that the pathway to resurrected living is repeatedly, strategically renouncing my right to myself. To renounce: to formally declare our abandonment of a right – to reject. The trigger to rising is renouncing. Scripture is not suggesting that we absorb abuse without speaking up, or that enjoying earthly things is wrong. Instead of taking the things of this world and making them all about us, we choose to take the things of this world and make them all about Him.
What does this look like practically? The more we prioritize Scripture and prayer, the more we become like Who we behold. His love compels us to do things that made no sense before. Dying to lavish spending to buy Bibles for evangelism. Dying to pride by serving quietly unnoticed. Dying to stubbornness to maintain reconciled relationship. Dying to ourselves brings spiritual joy because we grow closer to who we were created to be. We’re privileged to share in His suffering (1 Peter 4:13) and be shaped by trials into resurrected character.
The pattern of Resurrected Living is this: Jesus died and rose for us so our lives can die and rise for Him. Every thought, word, and action become divine opportunities to re-enact the gospel to a watching world who wonders if there’s hope and purpose for their brokenness too. A Jesus-pattern. A costly pattern. An ongoing, pattern of living risen.
#3 Living Risen Means Profound Future Joy
When I was young, I’d been dangling the end of an uncast fishing rod in the lake, frustrated by my lack of success. My grandpa came along smiling and whispered into my ear, “Watch this.” With one rhythmic swoop he cast the line way beyond what my awe-filled eyes could follow and transformed my fishing experience completely. The risen life pictured at the end of the Bible is like that – it casts our gaze beyond what’s near and temporal to give eternal perspective that impacts our frustrations now.
From its beginning to conclusion, the Bible is one grand, sweeping storyline. It begins with the promise of resurrection (Genesis 3:15), climaxes in Jesus’s literal resurrection (Luke 24:5-7), and concludes in a final resurrection of Jesus with His people. (Rev 7:9-12) There aren’t enough words to capture this triumphant glimpse of our resurrected home. Truth in harmony with power, despair melting into peace, bodies and souls unite in unbreakable perfection. Worship. It’s a resurrection victory that completes the biblical story and launches a resurrected forever. There we will stand in resurrected bodies, before our resurrected Saviour, with our resurrected family. Living risen is heavenly certainty impacting earthly living now, because it casts our gaze beyond current sorrow and onto Who is glorious. Future resurrection hope brings us comfort, builds endurance, and ushers joy into pain where it doesn’t make earthly sense.
Easter. Its true meaning moves us beyond the pastel shades of spring to the exaltation of Jesus in royal triumph. It’s an identity, a way of life, and a future home where we’ll always belong.
Are you dead in your sins and want to know more about being ‘in’ Jesus?
- Easter is the risen Jesus who didn’t stay dead so that you don’t have to, either. He calls you to surrender yourself, trust Him by faith and rise home to His heart.
Are you living defeated?
- All rising begins from a place that’s low. No matter who you are, or what you are going through, your valley is an opportunity for Jesus’s life to rise in testimony to His reality and beauty. Easter is the risen Jesus calling you to share in His sufferings, and rise into holiness.
Do you fear death?
- Easter is knowing that the same Jesus who died and rose centuries ago, awaits you on the other side where you will never break again.
We were dead in our sin, but when Life absorbs death, it cleanses what’s rotten and makes what’s dead rise. Risen status – from fully sinful to fully cleansed. Risen relationship with God – from absent to intimate. Risen purpose – from Me-focused to God-focused. Risen destination – from hell to heaven. The God who called creation into existence in the beginning of time (Genesis 1:3-26), will call this world to a close in resurrected belonging. (Revelation 21:1-7)
He calls you now to live risen. May the celebration of Easter this year move you – wherever we are – to rise and truly live.
When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 15:54-57)
Because He Lives | West Coast Choir
A Next Step
The more we learn about rising in Jesus, the more questions can sometimes arise as well.
How do we live risen in our own unique circumstances? God designed us for community, not to figure everything out by ourselves.
Harbour Fellowship Church in St. Catharines would love to connect with you, hear your story, and join you in moving forward.