The Monday night before Easter, I casually asked my pastor husband what he would be preaching on the following Sunday. Although he usually has it all planned out by then, he said that he didn’t have anything special in mind at that point, and asked me if I had any ideas. I thought for a moment, then told him that the only thing that had come to mind was the expression new life. But, since I was busy watching my favorite television program at the time, I didn’t give it another thought for the remainder of the evening. The next day, though, when I began wondering what new life might have meant to Jesus’ disciples on that very first Resurrection Sunday, there were three things that immediately popped into my mind. They were freedom, hope, and power—freedom from the bondage they had known in the past; hope for a better, more meaningful life in the future; and the power they would need to leave the one behind and fully enter into the other.
Freedom…“For freedom Christ has set us free…Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another (Galatians 5:1, 13).”
From what I know about the times in which Jesus lived, it seems quite likely that most, if not all, of His disciples originally began following Him because they expected Him to be the leader of a rebellion which would secure the freedom of the Jews from their oppressive Roman overlords. This, however, was not the kind of freedom that Jesus came to bring them. Instead of the temporal political liberation that they had been longing for for so long, the liberation that He came to provide was one that was spiritual in nature, and one which would endure throughout all eternity. While they couldn’t have realized the full import of that type of liberation on that first Easter morning, in time they would come to treasure and rejoice in the freedom it gave them from…
- The penalty and power of their sin;
- Their fear of and enslavement to death; and,
- The legalistic religious system under which they had had to operate all of their lives.
Because of the resurrection of Jesus, never again would they have to…
- Live day in and day out, wondering if they had “done enough” to have their sins forgiven, and if they were “righteous” before God;
- Live dreading death and wondering what eternity would hold for them;
- Offer up another sacrificial lamb, for the last and Perfect Lamb had just been offered;
- Go through an earthly priest to get to God, for the Great High Priest had come and would soon be seated at the right hand of the Father and interceding for them; or,
- Work at observing the letter of the Mosaic Law because the Holy Spirit would soon begin writing the Laws of God upon their hearts!
Wow, what a sense of freedom that must have been!
Hope…“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time (1 Peter 3-5).”
As a result of these new-found freedoms, new life would have also meant that the disciples could begin to enjoy a hope that they had never known before; a hope that…
- As the born again Sons and Daughters of God, they could stand forgiven before God in the righteousness of Christ Jesus;
- While Jesus was seated in Heaven interceding for them, He would also be living in and through them by His Spirit; and,
- Jesus, the Blessed Hope, would one day return and take them to Heaven with Him, where they would stand in the presence and glory of God, and receive the inheritance that had been set aside for them and for all the saints.
Power…“I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the spirit of wisdom and revelation, in the knowledge of him…that you may know…what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him form the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come (Ephesians 1:16-21).”
Of course, setting men free from their bondage to sin and death, from their centuries old religious traditions, all the while giving them new life through a rebirth of their spirits, was no mean task; it would require a power that had never before been seen by mortal men. Yet, this is the kind of power that was demonstrated when God, when Jesus had conquered the powers of hell and the grave, raised Him from the dead and seated Him in the place of honor at His right hand. And, the wonder of it all is that this same power, which was available to God’s only Begotten Son, is the very same power that He has made available to each of His adopted children—to those of us who have placed our faith in this resurrected Christ. For the power that can raise someone from the dead is the only power strong enough to free one from the chains of his past, to cleanse and purify him of his sins and place him in the position of an adopted child God, and then to lead him to victory over the world, the flesh, and the devil. No wonder the disciples had cause to rejoice!
But they weren’t the only ones with a reason to do so; like them, we have become the beneficiaries of this new life of freedom, hope, and power which was made available to us through the resurrection of Jesus Christ. This matchless gift of new life is something that each Easter should serve to remind us of, and something which we, as the modern-day disciples of Christ, should be rejoicing in every other day of the year.