For those of us who have professed Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, the day is especially commemorative. It is the day that the followers of Jesus discovered the tomb was empty and were asked “Why do you seek the liv-ing among the dead? He is not here, but has risen” (Luke 24: 5 & 6 ESV) It is the day we cry out in joyful ado-ration “He is risen, He is risen indeed!” Easter Sunday is the day we are reminded as we look at the empty cross that we worship and serve a living God. And it is because He conquered death that all who proclaim Him Lord and Savior cross over from walking dead to alive in Christ. Jesus said “I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes Him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned, he has crossed over from death to life.” (John 5:24 NIV)
However, we also acknowledge this month that in order for that resurrection to take place, a sacrificial death had to occur. Jesus Christ could not have resurrected without first giving His life for us. Renewal, rebirth, and spiritual transformation does not occur without something first dying. Jesus said: “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone, but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” (John 12:24 ESV) When we come to Christ, accepting His extended hand means letting go of our previous life. We die to our old self to be reborn in Him. Jesus said “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (John 3:3 KJV)
Does that mean that everything from our old life that did not glorify God falls away immediately? I sure wish it was that easy but the answer is no. It means we make a choice to let go. Our old baggage of non-God glorify-ing behavior will cling to us like the bandages Lazarus was wrapped in. And like those bandages, the removal process includes the body of Christ. When Jesus called Lazarus from the tomb, Lazarus responded by coming out of the tomb. We too, when we respond to His voice and call, are leaving the tomb of our previous life. The story tells us that Lazarus came out with his hands and feet bound with strips, and his face wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them (those around who had participated in moving the stone) “Unbind him, and let him go.” (John 11: 44 NASB) We respond to the call of Christ but come wrapped in the bandages of our old hab-its, beliefs, and behaviors. The process of growing in Christ includes the shedding of those bandages but they do not all fall away on their own. Some are removed by the loving hands of others in the body who help us on our journey of transformation.
So, on Easter we not only celebrate that we serve a risen Lord and Savior but that our new life in Him includes a church body to help us shed our old self, help us grow in Him, and help us face the challenges of our new life. We rejoice and celebrate we have Jesus in our lives and we rejoice and celebrate we have each other. I know that I celebrate that. Not only on Easter but every day God gives me life.