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Come Alive: Easter and the COVID Crises

by Brian Nixon

ALBUQUERQUE, NEW MEXICO (ANS)–Either the resurrection of Jesus is a fairy tale or it’s the most wonderful and hopeful fact of history. True, a resurrection from the dead sounds ridiculous to some, but for others it’s the resounding act of God in history. For someone dead to come back to life defies natural law, but it doesn’t defy supernatural leverage. Christianity is in its very essence a resurrection religion; the dead coming to life is the core of the Gospel—the good news. Using Ephesians 2: 1-7 as his text, Pastor Skip unpacks the Easter truth.

Why We Believe in the Resurrection

The evidence for Jesus’ resurrection is abundant and powerful:

    • Most scholars agree that Jesus’ tomb was empty shortly after His death. In other words, there’s a historical witness to the fact.
    • Eyewitness assert they saw Jesus alive after His death, both individuals and groups.
    • Several eyewitnesses of the risen Savior were martyred for this fact. Christians in every century of the past 2,000 years have died for this conviction—and most people won’t die for a lie.
    • Jesus Himself predicted His death and resurrection, fulfilling both old and new prophecies.

Why does this matter? Because the resurrection stands at the core of our Christian faith; the entire framework of Christianity is built upon the physical resurrection of the Messiah. Jesus’ resurrection is the cornerstone of our salvation; His feat changes our future, saving us from our sin.

Let’s look at three areas: your past, your present, and your future.

 

Your Past

The Apostle Paul describes what happens when a person comes to Jesus in Ephesians 2:1-7. The passage is a metaphor of bringing life out of death.

Paul first depicts our past. We were wandering from God—spiritually speaking, like the walking dead. As spiritual beings, we are DOA at birth, separated from God because of sin.

Here’s the truth: People don’t like the word sin; it’s crass, unsophisticated—and it should be. But think of this: What if the media replaced the word “coronavirus” with something softer—like “seasonal illness” or “mild flu”? Many more people would die. If a bottle contains poison, it shouldn’t be labeled “cough syrup.”

It’s the same with sin. We should call it what it is: a condition that separates us from God.   Sin is a disease, and we should want to find a cure as urgently as we do with COVID-19.

But the reason an unbeliever does not understand spiritual things is because he/she is what Paul called a “natural man” (1 Corinthians 2:14), unwilling and unable to think spiritually. And this is the reason we must be born again. Apart from Jesus we are dead, naturally set in our sin. We need a supernatural infusion.

Spiritually, without Christ, we are like corpses—unable to think, see, feel, or hear. We have all “walked” in sin (see Ephesians 2:2). Paul is saying we simply browse through the world, with no real goal or purpose. We sense that our life lacks purpose, and we feel empty.

But in Christ, we have purpose, meaning, and a future.

 

Your Present

Once we understand our past—that we are dead in sin—we get a better picture of what God can do in the present.

Notice the words in verse 4, “But God…” This is one of the great phrases in the Bible. It appears roughly forty-five times in Scripture, each time radically changing the situation. God is the Great Interrupter. “But God” means God did something in and through us.

“But God” can change bad news to good news, redirecting us from wandering through life aimlessly to walking purposefully with God.

So, what does this “But God” mean? He “made us alive together with Christ” (v. 5). In English, “made us alive together” is a desperate phrase, pointing to our status before Christ as the walking dead; in Greek, it is one word, meaning “to reanimate.” The majority of New Testament occurrences, it is a synonym of resurrection from the dead.

Paul’s point? God took us from the wandering dead to fully alive.

There’s a reason, then, Peter referred to the Christian experience as a “living hope” (1 Peter 1:3). When Christ saves us, we go from hopeless living to a living hope. Peter himself experienced this when Jesus transformed him from a fisherman to a fisher of men.

If Jesus’ claims of His resurrection were true, so were His other promises. We can take Him at His word.

Jesus also said, “I am the resurrection and the life” (John 11:25). He promises us, “Because I live, you can live also.”God’s great love was demonstrated on the cross. He sacrificed Himself for us because He’s “rich in mercy” (Ephesians 2:4) This is a perfect match, because we are poor in sin.

Just remember this: “Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not” (Lamentations 3:22).

Some worry that God doesn’t even like them; if that’s you, it’s time you discover that God loves. No matter who you are, no matter what you’ve done, or how you lived—Christ died for you. Your present can be a “But God” moment if you turn your life over to Him.

 

Your Future

If your present life is centered in Christ, you have a lot to look forward to—watching for God to work in and through your life. Paul wrote in verse 7: “…that in ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.” If you are a Christian, your present walk with Christ is not all there is; there is a future with Him, eternity in Everlasting Arms.

Becoming a Christian is not the end of the story, it’s just the beginning of an endless relationship. In Christ, the future opens up. We realize that heaven will be our home. Not only do we have peace and forgiveness now, we have heaven’s glory before us (see Titus 2:13-14, 1 Thessalonians 1:9-10, and Philippians 3:20-21). Though there is lots of pain in our world, we can look past this, to hope now and a future home later.

My question for the Christian is this: How are you waiting for Jesus? Are you eager? Passive? Resigned? Indifferent?

My prayer is that you are like Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, tapping her shoes, saying, “There’s no place like home.” We should be as one Scotsman said, “Lord, stamp eternity on my eyeballs.”

Why should Christians be so eager about heaven? It’s simple: God loves us so much, it’ll take eternity to tell us of that love.

So, our hope is not in the coming of the Lord, but in the Lord who is coming.

C.S. Lewis said, “A continual looking forward to the eternal world is not (as some modern people think) a form of escapism or wishful thinking, but one of the great things a Christian is meant to do. It does not mean that we are to leave the present world as it is. If you read history you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were just those who thought most of the next…. It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this.”[1]

My prayer for is for you to go from wandering to walking to watching.

What if we treated sin like the coronavirus? After all, sin is far more serious and has longer-lasting effects. Think of these comparisons:

    • COVID-19 has an infection rate of 2.5 percent; sin has 100 percent infection rate.
    • We’re told to distance ourselves from others. But sin separates us from God.
    • We’re told to wash our hands to decrease infection rates. But sin gives us lustful looks, foul mouths, hateful thoughts, and agonizing actions.
    • Doctors are frantically looking for an antibody, some by using the blood plasma of others.

In Jesus’s blood, we have the antibody (see 1 John 1:7). Jesus took the infection, so we can live. To keep from future suffering (a life apart from God), we need to take the antivirus, the vaccine, the cure: Christ the Lord.

Here’s the truth: The best news the world ever got came from a graveyard.

The best news you’ll ever hear during this coronavirus is that Jesus loves you.

 

Practice Your Faith

Connect Up: As Christians, we can lose our grip on the power and wonder of Jesus’ resurrection, despite how essential it is to our faith. Review Pastor Skip’s points under Why We Believe in the Resurrection. For a more detailed summary of proof for the resurrection, look at William Lane Craig’s list as https://www.reasonablefaith.org/writings/popular-writings/jesus-of-nazareth/the-resurrection-of-jesus/. Take time to pray, thanking and praising God for the joy and awe of what Jesus did that fateful morning, that first Resurrection Sunday.

Connect In: Easter reminds us of our priorities as Christians. We have to resist letting our current troubles distract us from what God is doing—and what He wants to do in and through each of His children. C.S. Lewis warns us, “Aim at Heaven and you will get earth ‘thrown in’; aim at earth and you will get neither.”[1] He compares it to health: You don’t get healthy by focusing on health; you get healthy by doing things that make you healthier—eating right, exercising, seeking help and giving it. What things are you doing to help keep your eyes on God and His purposes these days?

Connect Out: People have always been skeptical about Christ’s resurrection—beginning with the religious leaders who ensured Jesus’ crucifixion. More recently, historian Arnold Toynbee said of the resurrection’s importance, “Find the body of that Jew and Christianity crumbles into ruins.”[2] Paul wrote, “If Christ has not been raised, then your faith is useless and you are still guilty of your sins…. And if our hope in Christ is only for this life, we are more to be pitied than anyone in the world” (1 Corinthians 15:17-19). Using your review in the Connect Up section, how would you defend the resurrection to a skeptic?

 

[1] Mere Christianity, 134.

[2] Arnold Toynbee, Man’s Concern with Death (1969), quoted in Charles Swindoll, The Tale of the Tardy Oxcart (Nashville: W Publishing Group, 1998).

[1] C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity (New York: HarperOne, 2015 ed.), 134.

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