Last Friday, the topic of this blog was the women who discovered the empty tomb, and left to go report what they found and heard from the angel. The women were filled with fear and great joy. On their way, they met Jesus who gave them the simple message, “Rejoice.” Yet they likely did not even know the half of their reasons for rejoicing.
As we walk away from the empty tomb after our celebration of the resurrection, still in wonder and joy at the great news that Christ is risen indeed, are we fully aware of what our God has in store for those who love Him? Do we even know the half of it? The message of Jesus to us is the same; rejoice. Why? Are there things we do not grasp concerning this resurrection event that will be a source of greater joy to us as well?
Ephesians 2:1-10 gives us a summary of the causes for rejoicing we have in considering our salvation. “You were dead through the trespasses and sins in which you once lived, following the course of this world, following the ruler of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work among those who are disobedient. All of us once lived among them in the passions of our flesh, following the desires of flesh and senses, and we were by nature children of wrath, like everyone else. But God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God— not the result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life.”
Rejoice because you were dead in your trespasses and sins, dead without the life of God in you. But if you have committed you entire being to walking with the Spirit of Christ daily, you are dead no longer. Rejoice!
Rejoice because apart from the death and resurrection of Jesus, you were doomed to obeying the ruler of this world, Satan. You followed the course of this world, and the ruler of the power of the air. Thinking that you are making your own way, you can only be fooled into following our enemy into rebellion and destruction.
Rejoice because you once lived among the disobedient in the passions of your flesh, following the desires of flesh and senses. As such, you were by nature children of wrath, under the wrath of God that is coming on the world.
Rejoice because our God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ. You are alive with Christ and in Christ, and He is alive in you as well, if indeed you have chosen to follow Him with all your heart, mind, and strength.
Rejoice because you have been offered salvation in Christ – just as Christ was made alive in His resurrection, so we are included into His resurrection and therefore made alive with Him. This is not simply a resurrection from death, but from our old self-life and into His perfect life as well. You can rejoice that you no longer need to be enslaved to sin, but can be set free by the life of God in you.
Rejoice because from now on through the ages, we will see the immeasurable riches of His grace in kindness toward us, because we are now in Christ.
Rejoice because not only is it by grace you have been saved, but it is our God Who grants us the grace to be saved. He even grants us the faith to be saved and to live that salvation every day.
Rejoice because your relationship to your God does not depend upon your works. It is the gift of God— not the result of works, so that no one may boast. Our God desires to live His life in and through us, which will be a life greater and richer than anything we can imagine or cobble together here on our own.
Rejoice because you are now resurrected with Christ Jesus into your new covenant life. You are “His workmanship , created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life.” The term “workmanship” in the Greek is “poiema” meaning “living poetry,” or “poetry in motion.” This is what you are if you are walking in Christ, and by His Spirit in you. Your new life is created in Christ Jesus. And it supplants and far exceeds and outshines your old life, your former manner of living. You are created for the good works of Christ lived out in your life daily. Vastly superior, incredibly richer, surpassing all our human lives could ever be.
Jesus is waiting to meet us along the way, and His message to us is the same: “Rejoice!” And behind that message there is the same promise of our God of a life of surpassing wonder, promise, and joy. For those who forsake all to follow Him, as Jesus said we must do, there awaits the life of God to be lived in us. Vastly superior, incredibly richer, surpassing all our human lives could ever be. A life that Jesus describes as “rivers of living water” that flow out of us.
Here is the great joy of Easter. Not just that we who choose this life of surrender can live with our God in the fully renewed and restored heaven and earth. Just as great, we can live in union with our God here and now, every day, transformed by His Holy Spirit alive in us.
Why would we not be joyful?