Are you not aware that we — as many as were baptized into the Anointed One, Jesus — were immersed into his death? By this merging into death we were buried with him so that, just as the Anointed was raised from the dead by the Father’s glory [His goodness] we too might walk in a fresh, new life. — Paul, winter AD 57–58
Governments can penalize it, therapists can analyze it and prescribe ways to cope, relatives can break up over it, or hide it, but they cannot cure it. God knows sin for what it really is — a sickness of the human soul wherein a good, implanted desire is satisfied down a life-sapping path. Yet, as modern medicine continues to demonstrate, any sickness can be conquered — even in this life. As Paul notes in Romans 7:17, sin is not us, and we are not sin.
The only One in the universe who is completely unblinded to the real you, is never hardened by your actions. Hearing the depths of your heart, He saw His own image waiting there beneath all the fog-of-war — and tying on His own chain, pulled that suffocating, parasitic stump out by its roots.
Asher Intrater, an Israeli brother, explains how Jesus did this out of love, and how we can continue the procedure.
To help other people, we must believe in them. People will rise to the level of faith you have for them. This is a secret of supernatural friendship, of leadership. You see a person with all of their failures, faults, and frustrating qualities — but can you also see the divine potential in them? The divine destiny within another person may be just a tiny seed, but we see it as a mighty tree (Matthew 13:32). During the process, you have to put up with their negativity — a kind of cross that you must bear in order to build them up. It is painful, but in the spirit of Yeshua, you “bear with them.”
This is not merely for others, but looking in the mirror, we must believe in ourselves too, and see our own potential as divines (2Pe 1:4).
With Easter approaching, we want to ask, how did this sin-stump get pulled out of humanity? How was the petrified forest of the knowledge of (and constantly weighing between) good and evil removed in order to re-sow the Tree of Life?
Back in the first century, Jesus, the defect-free Lamb of God, addressed sin’s origins by becoming the last sacrifice necessary for it, for all time, for every person. Spanning continents and epochs, the unthinkable thing, that Life Himself could somehow succumb to death, reverberates to this day. Isaiah witnessed God’s own thoughts about this fateful event:
Many were horrified at what happened to him. But everyone who saw him were even more horrified because he suffered until he no longer looked human. My Servant will make many nations leap, surprised by joy as he sprinkles them clean. Kings will be silent as they bow in wonder. They will see and think about things they have never seen or thought about before.
Like a young plant or a root that sprouts in dry ground, the Servant grew up obeying the Lord. He wasn’t some handsome king. Nothing about the way he looked made him attractive to us. He was hated and rejected; his life was filled with sorrow and terrible suffering. No one wanted to look at him. We despised him and said, “He is a nobody!” He suffered and endured great pain for us, but we mistook his suffering as punishment from God.
He is pierced for our rebellion. Crushed for our iniquities. The discipline of our shalom is on him. And by his wounds we are healed.
All of us were like sheep that had wandered off. We had each gone our own way, but the Lord, in him, reached the iniquity of us all. He was painfully abused, but he did not complain. He was silent like a lamb being led to the butcher, as quiet as a sheep having its wool sheared off.
He was condemned to death without a fair trial. Who could have imagined what would happen to him? His life was taken away because of the sinful things my people had done. He wasn’t dishonest or violent, but was buried in a tomb among the cruel and the rich.
It is, of course, astounding that such an accurate narrative for the crucifixion had been set down hundreds of years before the Servant appeared. Was the feeling bittersweet for young Jesus to read this in the local rabbi’s scroll? Did His fingers trace the words as He memorized them, knowing that every sun-up and sun-down, and every Messianic act from then on would conspire to move Him forward toward that day?
Yet, there is sweet in bittersweet.
Not even the intense drama and tragedy of Jesus’ trial, torture, death and burial could prepare one for the utter shock of what came next. Three days later, something no priest or sage could have expected—the Sacrifice shaking off death like so much snow and raising itself from the altar.
As mentioned in Part One, after the intensity of Jesus’ passion and death, nothing could have prepared one for the utter shock of what came next. It was something that no rabbi or sage could have foreseen— the Sacrifice shaking off its mortal coil and raising itself up off the altar.
The four gospels tell of the disciples’ astonishment and confusion as they encountered the resurrected Jesus. One apparent reason for this is that Jesus looked nothing like he did previously. Mary mistook him for a gardener, one who, strangely, did not merely beautify tombs but carried off interred corpses! Similarly, the disciples on the Emmaus Road regarded him as a traveling pilgrim who was, apparently, clueless about recent events.
The significance of this should not be missed.
The Arimathean tomb,
Like the caterpiller’s cocoon,
Is the womb in the earth,
From which came our new birth.
When Jesus stepped out, He was unrecognizable.
So are you.
As Lisa Thompson puts it,
A butterfly is never called “a caterpillar saved by grace.” It is a completely new creation. The butterfly has left the cocoon behind.
This is why, when we continue to speak over ourselves things like I am nothing, worthless, wretched, blind, a worm in the dirt, we are unwittingly agreeing with the devil’s identity. Just as God is creating sons and daughters, satan is trying to reproduce himself in humanity too. This should not be so.
For, if we have become of a kindred nature in a death like his, we will at least also be grafted together in resurrection [like his]. — Romans 6:5
So, if anyone is in the Anointed he is a new creation; the old things have passed away. Look — they have become new. — 2 Corinthians 5:17
There is an important distinction to be made here, between two notions which are sometimes confused. Scholar and historian Marcus J. Borg explains,
Resuscitation refers to the reanimation of a corpse: a person dead or thought to be dead comes back to life, resumes the life that she or he had before and will die again someday.
Resurrection means something quite different in a first-century Jewish context, it does not refer to resumption of one’s previous life, but entry into another kind of existence, a level or realm that is beyond death…
Whatever happened at Easter, it was not resuscitation. Easter does not mean that Jesus resumed his previous life as a finite person, limited in time and space, and then died again someday. Rather, resurrection means that he entered another kind and level of existence, “raised to the right hand of God.”
Resuscitation happens from outside a person. Someone must perform an external procedure, and bring that person back to life. But resurrection is not so. In hell, Jesus found Death coiled ‘round Him like a snake, yet He found that the power on His inside was greater than the pressure to stay dead. Who He was and Where he was standing on the inside was greater than every hellish circumstances without. Magnificently, as He is, so are we in this world (1Jo 4:17). If the Spirit of the One who raised Jesus from the dead lives in you, He who raised the Anointed One from the dead also pumps life into our mortal bodies (Rom 8:11).
Watchman Nee, the well-known Chinese theologian, tells us,
Christ is the last Adam, and by His death He concludes the old creation. By His resurrection, Christ commences a new creation.
Today, we celebrate the resurrections. Notice I said resurrections, not resurrection. First, we celebrate Christ’s rising from the grave, like the first ray of the sun warming the earth after a long, cold night. But, we celebrate our resurrection too. Christ’s victory wasn’t just for Himself. He is no showman. It was for us too.
As Curt Vernon sings,
No one’s going to leave this place a captive.
No one’s going to leave this place in chains.
Because the blood that You spilled for me,
Left freedom running through my veins.
Now I’m like a walking resurrection
Heaven and earth are growing hard to tell apart
See, I believe that the kingdom of power
Is about to wage a war on the kingdom of talk.
Colin MacIntyre is the maker of www.bettercovenant.cards. He is a teacher and graphic designer who loves revealing Jesus and the Bible down to their roots with a peculiar Eastern flavour.