ISAIAH FORETOLD OF a servant who would be truly God and yet truly man; humble to the point of flawless obedience. This man, this incarnation of God, grew up like a young plant; like a root out of dry ground. He had no form of majesty that we should recognize Him, yet He would rise as our King. In His final hours, at the pinnacle of His faithfulness to the Father, His appearance would be so off-putting as to cause us to look away. Beaten and marred, He would barely resemble a human being.
No one could believe God’s saving power would come in the form of a man, bloodied, broken, murdered on a cross. This servant of God was so determined in his submission, He appeared to be timid and weak. He was beaten and bruised not because of anything He had done, but because of our iniquities. His pain was our pain as He struggled to the top of the Mount of Olives carrying a wooden cross. He was punished in our place. Our sin did this to Him; ripped and tore through His skin with each blow of the flagellum whip. He withstood a punishment that made us whole; that put us right before the Father. He was beaten that we might be healed. Tortured beyond comprehension, yet He did not complain. At the time, no one truly understood the full implication of what was happening.
A Glorious Day
As good comes before evil, freedom comes before bondage. Augustine of Hippo believed evil is the absence of good; that evil is not its own created entity. In the same manner, darkness is the absence of light; it is not a created state of being. In fact, before creation, the earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep (Gen. 1:2). God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. And God saw that the light was good. God separated the light from the darkness” (1:3-4). Jesus is the very plan for redemption ordained before the foundation of the world. He is the “light” of the world. Darkness cannot hide from Him. He is a Light so brilliant He will illuminate the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God, the New City. There will be no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Light of Christ (see Rev. 21:11, 23).
Ain’t no grave that could hold our Savior. After the Sabbath, toward the dawn of the first day of the week after Jesus was crucified and buried, Mary, the mother of Jesus, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. As they approached, the ground shook and an angel appeared and rolled back the great stone that sealed the entrance of the tomb. The angel said, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay.” The angel instructed them to go tell the others, and to meet in Galilee (See Matt. 28:1-7). The Roman guards had also inspected the tomb and found it empty.
Jesus is alive. And because He lives, we live.
Captives, Let Go of Your Chains!
We, each one of us, are like stubborn sheep who keep straying off. We get bored. Or, maybe worse, we get bold. Decide we don’t need a shepherd. So off we go, until we are so lost we cannot recognize ourselves as sheep anymore. We don’t know what we’ve become. What happened to our “big plan” of being independent; doing our own thing? How had everything gone so wrong? Yet, we keep struggling. We know something is amiss, and it feels like there is not was out. The more we suffer, the more we look for something (anything) to anesthetize us. This is just too much, we think. We compromise everything, even our morals, just to feel happy again; healed; joyful. Or, more often, just to not feel pain. We have reached our event horizon. No longer can any human power save us, heal us, bring us back from the brink of utter annihilation.
Some of us find ourselves caught up in the merry-go-round of the premeditated habitual practice of sin often fall to Satan’s unmitigated lie that we don’t love God. How could we? If God’s Word is “hidden in our hearts” then why do we sin? Right? I mean, how can a true believer choose sin over obedience? Simply, we get lost, blinded, unable to remember who we are in Christ. We forget we have been crucified with Christ; we no longer have to allow our fleshly appetites, stress, hunger, worry—our circumstances, the winds and waves and dark skies—to drown out the gentle, reassuring voice of God. We start sinking when we take our eyes off Jesus. Falling into habitual sin, we forget about the way out.
This changes everything! We are not who we once were, and we owe it to ourselves to worship the One who made it so! Paul said, Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come” (2 Cor. 5:17). There is no resurrection without death; no new beginning without an end to the old. Jesus walked out of that grave and we walked out with Him. The promise of the resurrection was not only an assurance He would rise on the third day, but that all things dead and ruined would be restored. This “blessed assurance” must be lived out. Don’t believe a “different gospel.” The false gospel that that tells us we are too lost, too obstinate, too fiercely independent, too “unlike Christ” to ever be who we already are in Him! No more inclusive words have every been uttered than when our Savior said, “It is finished.” We are complete in Him, never to be the same.