Jesus is alive! All four Gospels corroborate the story! The tomb was empty. Even the Roman guards that stood guard at the entrance to the tomb testified to the chief priests (Matthew 28) that there had been an earthquake, that an angel of the Lord appeared, that he rolled away the stone and that he sat down on it. The guards went unconscious at that point, but Jesus was clearly gone and gone through supernatural efforts. How many angels have you encountered in a cemetery? I mean, come on! That is eye-witness testimony from the enemy. Then, Jesus appeared to over 500 witnesses. The disciples touched the Risen Lord. Paul, a sworn enemy of Jesus, one who killed believers, became a believer Himself after an encounter with the Risen Christ and then went on to write most of the New Testament and to establish many churches. Jesus’ skeptical brother, James, also became a Christian.
His followers never wavered. Their story never changed. News spread like wildfire. It wasn’t a myth. It’s not a legend. It isn’t a make-believe story to give us some kind of false hope. Many of those eyewitnesses were killed for their testimony. Why were they willing to die for Jesus? Why were they willing to proliferate the Gospel at the cost of their lives? They were willing to lay their lives down not just because Jesus had laid down His life for them, but because He picked His life back up again and said that we could have life in Him. He said we could have the kind of life that conquers death, the kind of life that produces and sustains joy, peace and the power to overcome any situation. Life in Christ is triumphant, victorious, and glorious.
Jesus said of Himself in John 14:6-“I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
Have you heard someone use the expression that something is their life? They might say their children are their life or their spouse or boyfriend or girlfriend is their life. Some may view sports, music, video games, fishing or social media as their life. When people use that expression, it means they are devoting themselves to whatever they consider to be their life because of what they believe they gain in return. They are adjusting their schedules to make that person or activity the centerpiece of their lives. They are giving focus and energy to that thing and they are looking to that person or activity to give them a sense of well-being, a feeling of being “alive,” a sense of fulfillment or purpose. They are building their life around that person or thing.
In Colossians 3:4, Paul helps us understand that for believers, Jesus is our life. Paul says, Colossians 3:4-When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. Paul said that Christ is the life for and of His followers.
Jesus is my life. He is the foundation for my life. He is the energy and vitality for my life. He is the guiding force in my life. He has given me life from the inside out. My soul that was once dark and void of anything good and anything God now is a vessel for the life of Christ. His life has been deposited into my life, and now Jesus is living His life out again here on earth through my life. “Well, Pastor Melissa, that sounds like you’ve been possessed.” Bingo. Correct. Absolutely. You got it. Winner, winner, chicken dinner! I have traded my life for the life of Christ, and He dwells inside of me!
Being a Christian means the life of Christ gets deposited into your life. His sinless, perfect, righteous life is what qualified Him to pay the price for the sins of the world, and when I accepted what He did for me when He died on the cross and take Him to be my Savior, His sinless, perfect and righteous life is translated to me and when God looks at me, He doesn’t see me or my sin. He only sees the sinless, perfect, righteous One who satisfied the debt I owed. I have life with God because Jesus lives in me. This is the only way to get to God, the only way to get to Heaven.
But wait, there’s more. God wants more for you than the removal of your sins and a ticket to Heaven. God wants you to have life and life more abundant here on earth (John 10:10). When you get Jesus, you get eternal life in Heaven, and you also get to experience abundant life now.
Jesus gave His life for us so that He could give His life to us. Jesus didn’t just want to die for us, but He wants to live in and through us! Don’t miss this today. Yes, you need your sins removed from you, but Jesus offers more than sin removal. He wants to give you more than you could ask or imagine. He wants you to have the kind of life that was intended for Adam and Eve to have when God created them and placed them in the Garden of Eden.
I want to share three aspects of the life of Christ with you this morning. Would you take just a second to pause and bow your heads and in a moment of silent prayer, ask God to give you the life He has for you?
The life of Christ is unbroken fellowship with God.
When God created Adam and Eve, they walked in close connection with God. It was awesome. Their lives were incredible! They had everything they needed. It was amazing. For however long that lasted, they were living their best life, but when they sinned against God, their close fellowship was broken. Sin separates us from God (Isaiah 59:2). If that is tough to understand, just bring it down to your own personal experience. When people offend you and violate the sacredness of your relationship with them, it creates distance between you and them, right? It changes things. How much more difficulty is there between sinful man and a righteous God? It was more than awkward for Adam and Eve. There was shame and embarrassment. Intimacy was gone. They tried to hide from God. All they enjoyed from that relationship was gone. How could that close relationship be recovered?
God took the necessary steps toward Adam and Eve to help them reconnect with Him. He made atonement for their sin through the sacrificial blood of an animal. God called Adam and Eve out of hiding, not to reprimand them but to repair them. They had tried to cover their shame through their own physical efforts, but it did nothing to change their condition. God covered them completely with coverings He made for them.
You see, when things are broken between us and God, we have a limited existence. That’s what it is. Just an existence. We are physically alive because our hearts are beating and our lungs are expanding, but we are spiritually dead and are disconnected from the One who gives our lives meaning and purpose. Life is just one-dimensional. It is just physical.
I don’t know about you, but after the last year, if the physical life was all there was to look forward to, I’d be the most miserable person around. This earthly life is filled with challenge, conflict, restrictions, obstacles, sickness and barriers. Things in the physical realm may be up one day, but you never know how long that will last. You never know when the other shoe will drop. (Y’all do know what that means, don’t you? Not knowing when the other shoe will drop? In the tenements of New York City in the late 19th and early 20th century, apartments were built with bedrooms on top of one another. It was common to hear your upstairs neighbor take off a shoe, drop it, and then repeat the action. It became shorthand for waiting for something you knew was coming. Now you know. You’re welcome.) Because we live in a sinful world, problems and pain are inevitable in the physical realm. There is always another shoe waiting to drop. That is why we can’t count on the physical world to give us what we need to truly live.
But there is more to experience than the physical. There is spiritual life that is exhilarating, energizing, and is always propelling believers forward. You need a God-connection. You need a God-covering. Listen, an intimate connection with God covers our sin, but it also provides a covering for our lives. We can live in another dimension, above the physical constraints of this world! We can live protected from evil which means we can live safe from the devil’s schemes and influence. We are not exempted from life’s storms, but we can live protected by the hand of God in the midst of life’s storms. God will cover us with comfort and supernatural strength in times of sorrow that people without Him do not understand. Friends will only stick with you for so long in a crisis. Friends can’t stay up all night with you night after night when your heart is broken, but Jesus will. No earthly connection can give you what you need to keep going when life hits you like a wave and knocks you off of your feet, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother! His name is Jesus (Proverbs 18:24). You need the spiritual life He gives! Jesus came to free us from sin, but He also came to free us from the one-dimensional physical experience by giving us spiritual life.
The life of Christ is a power-filled life.
The empty tomb is yet another proof that our God is a God of miracles. Life with Christ is an adventure in the realm of faith where anything is possible. The physical realm is the realm where some things are possible. The spiritual realm is the place where with God all things are possible (Matthew 19:26). Pastor David shared with our Wednesday prayer group this week that one time when he had shingles, painful, irritating shingles, his church anointed and prayed for him and he was instantly healed. Instantly. Eddie Ferrari received healing of his eyesight in one of our church services as the choir sang. Angie Walker received an emotional healing in an instant in one of our Wednesday services last fall. 28 years ago, a young man who had been addicted to alcohol and drugs for ten years rededicated his life to the Lord and prayed that God would take his desire for alcohol and drugs away. God instantly answered that prayer and my husband, Thom Pratt, was set free to live a life without having to fight those physical demons anymore. The life of Jesus is a life of might and miracles.
In Christ, we do not have to live as victims of people’s selfish decisions and bad physical circumstances that have sought to take life from us. God will give us the power to overcome and overcome and overcome. Oh glory! The Christian life is a series of overcoming episodes. The key word there is OVER! God gives us power over things in this earthly life in and through our relationship with Jesus. In the strength and power of Christ, we are always rising! (I feel like I should have requested the “Rocky” theme song to start playing in the background!) Oh, my friends, when we walk with Jesus, we may get knocked down, but we will never be knocked out. God will always enable us to get back up again and to overcome.
II Corinthians 4:7-11 puts it this way: 7 But we have this treasure (the life of Christ) in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. 8 We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; 9 persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 10 We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the LIFE of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. 11 For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his LIFE may also be revealed in our mortal body.
Power to live! Power to overcome. Power to get back up! It’s yours in Christ.
Listen to Paul’s prayer for the church at Ephesus, it’s a prayer for you and me today. Ephesians 1:18-20 18 I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, 19 and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength 20 he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms,
The same power that caused an earthquake to manifest, which caused a stone weighing between two and four thousand pounds to move from the entrance to Jesus’ tomb, the power which caused breath and life to be put back into the body of a dead Jesus, which caused His heart to start beating again…that’s the same power that lives in us, believers. Can you see it? Can you reach for it? Jesus is the life and that life is power to overcome.
Oh, my friends, because of Christ’s power that is available to you, you can walk out of any tomb this morning. Through His power, you can walk out of the tomb of depression! You can walk out of the tomb of isolation. You can walk out of the tomb of relational conflict. You can walk out of the tomb of self-harm and self-loathing. You can walk out of the tomb of the need to live for everyone else’s approval. You can walk out of the tomb of financial debt. You can walk out of the tomb of anxiety. You can walk out of the tomb of sorrow. Are you buried by your doubt? Has a low view of yourself placed you in a cold, dark tomb? Have you been walled off from abundant life because of failures in your past? Does pornography or another sex addiction have you buried beneath the real-life God has for you? Have you been spiritually incarcerated because you have dabbled in occultic or pagan practices? Has confusion over your sexual identity or gender identity become a tormenter that has kept you defeated and down? Has Satan gained a foothold in some area of your life? Have you believed Satan’s lies that you can never be free? Satan is a liar! Jesus is the Life, and His power can set you free!
The power of God is so unbelievably real that in and through it, life comes even from death. Again, the Resurrection is proof.
The life of Christ is a victorious life.
We live with a sense of victory. We live with our peace intact. We live with a can-do spirit. We have read the end of the book, and we know we win because Jesus won! There are 365 “Fear nots” in the Bible, one for each day of the year. When Mary Magdalene went to the tomb that Resurrection morning to anoint Jesus’ body, no doubt many fears were gripping her mind. How would she and the other women get the stone rolled away to do what they desired to do for Jesus’ lifeless body, but beyond that, how would she go on living without Jesus physically present in her life?
He had delivered her from 7 demons. Until she met Jesus, she had been tormented constantly. As she walked with Jesus, He had kept her safe. She, no doubt, was afraid of what would happen to her without Him to keep Satan at bay. When the Resurrected Jesus appeared to her and called her name, she clung to Him. He had freed her from all fear. She wasn’t going to let Him go. He explained to her that He had to ascend into Heaven, but the Holy Spirit would come to be placed inside of His followers so that they could have the same kind of life they had when Jesus walked the earth.
Believers, we don’t have to live in fear of the devil or anything he can do. The Bible tells us in Colossians 2:15 that Jesus triumphed over the devil on the cross. Jesus disarmed Satan, and the Resurrected life, deposited into our lives, keeps us from having to live in any fear of Satan.
We don’t have to fear death because Jesus has also removed the “sting” of death (I Cor. 15:55). We will not die, but we will live forever with our Lord in perfection. To leave this life, if you have life with Christ, is to receive a promotion. Heaven is by far better than your best day on earth. Our Savior, and not any sickness, will have the final say in our lives.
We don’t have to fear other people. Psalm 27:1-The Lord is my light and my salvation—whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life—of whom shall I be afraid? God will be your defender. God will right every wrong. God shut the mouths of lions, surely, He can shut up your enemy and expose lies when they are being perpetrated.
Listen, We do not have to live in fear. God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind (II Timothy 1:7). No one can do anything to me or against me that won’t turn out for my benefit and God’s glory. Nothing can take down the life of Jesus, and He lives in me! Come on, somebody! You don’t have to fear anything. Not a pandemic. Not a political party. Not a person. Not a plight or a position you are placed in. You don’t have to fear anything!
Believers, we have the life of Jesus, and He wasn’t afraid of anything! Not the devil. Not the religious leaders. Not the Romans. Not His family. Not public opinion. Not even His betrayer. Jesus was never afraid. Why? Because God was with Him, and as God was with Jesus, God is with us because our lives are hidden away with His life (Col. 3:3).
Because Christ is my life, I have unbroken fellowship with God.
Because Christ is my life, I have unbelievable power to overcome life’s trials.
Because Christ is my life, I have unstoppable victory over anything Satan or this world could throw at me.
Christ is my Life. He is my Everything. He is my All in All. He is my Sufficiency, my Source, my Healer, my Provider, my Protector, my Deliverer, my Refuge, my Counselor, my very best Friend. For like Paul said in Galatians 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, BUT CHRIST LIVES IN ME. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”
God has done a new thing in my life by forgiving me of my sin and by placing the life of Christ inside of me and reserving my space in Heaven. But, it’s not only a new-thing, but it is a now-thing. God and I are connected in Christ and because of that, I live fearlessly by faith always looking for the next moment Jesus will make a Resurrection appearance in my life to give me power and victory to continue to overcome all things.