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He is Risen!

As Easter Sunday approaches, and the supermarkets are full of brightly packaged, alluring chocolate eggs, Christians all around the world are – or should be – preparing to celebrate the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. Surprisingly, much more focus in some spheres of influence seems to be given to the horrific events of Good Friday, when it is the empty tomb on Easter Sunday that we should be firmly fixing our eyes upon. Are we, as Christians both young and old in our faith, running the risk of leaving Jesus hanging on the cross?

It is, in fact, an easy thing to do, to put our focus on the suffering and death that Jesus endured in order to pay the price for our sins, or to keep our gaze fixed on the cross as a constant reminder of that which we, by our faith in Him, have been saved from. But, in doing so, there is so much more we are missing out on! Jesus’ death on the cross was not the end, and neither is our acceptance of Him as our Lord and Saviour the end. Rather, our salvation is a beginning – of an amazing, exciting (and often turbulent) journey towards that which Jesus achieved on Easter Sunday when the power of the Almighty  resurrected Him from the dead into eternal life.

death-defeated-jesus-21290839-387-291If our focus is ever on the cross and on the suffering of Christ, then we are not grasping all that we have inherited through our intimate relationship with Him. To know that Jesus suffered and endured great pain, degradation and humiliation is a great comfort when we ourselves are enduring trials of our own. To know that He loved us enough to take upon Himself the wrath of God, that we are deserving of for our sins, is a wonderful blessing. But by far the greatest knowledge any Christian can hold in their hearts is the knowledge that Jesus has conquered the grave, defeated death, and, in doing so, given us who are in relationship with Him, that same promise of eternal life that He Himself embraced on a Sunday morning more than 2000 years ago.

When we look beyond the cross, when we look beyond the agony etched on the beautiful face of our Lord, when we look beyond that desperate cry of a man separated from His eternal Father, and we see that empty tomb, with the stone rolled away by the sheer force of the resurrection life of Christ, what we are seeing is freedom. What we are seeing is chains of bondage being broken. What we are seeing is walls crumbling and captives being set free, cells bursting open and prisoners released. But if we never look that far, if we never move from the foot of the cross, staring up at the suffering servant bearing the terrible burden and weight of our sins, then we are not living out the freedom that Jesus wants us to embrace. Unless we allow Jesus to climb down from the cross and then allow ourselves to see the magnificence of His resurrection, we risk binding ourselves with chains of guilt to the cross.

empty-tombMatthew 28:2-3 tells of the mighty power that rolled away the stone from Jesus’ tomb: “There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from Heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow.” That power to roll away the stones in our lives that stop us walking in resurrection life has already been given to us, and we are washed as white as snow by the events of the crucifixion and the resurrection.

he-is-risen-2Jesus came to set us free, and whilst the cross was a crucial part of that process, we cannot linger too long at the foot of the cross. Death was a necessity for Jesus, but only because He had to die in order to be raised to life again. In Christ, when we are born again, our lives are broken, bloodied and crucified on the cross not that we stay there, washed in blood, but that we climb down from the cross, roll away the stone of oppression, break the chains of our captivity and walk in the freedom and radiance of resurrection life. 

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