Immanuel Lutheran Church
Lamplighter: The Pastor's Pen

Last month, I made a big deal of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead. In fact, I have made a big deal about it every week in my sermons, especially since Easter Sunday. Why is it so important? As I wrote last month, it’s important chiefly because if Jesus was not raised from the dead, than he is a liar. If Jesus is dead, you are still in your sins (1 Corinthians 15:17). Your faith is futile. There is no hope. This is why the Apostles make such a big deal out of the resurrection. Peter preaches about it over and over in Acts, writing later that we Christians have been “born from above into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1 Peter 1:3). Paul also centers our entire faith on the truth and reality of Jesus’ resurrection (see above). There is no doubting that Christianity is nothing if Jesus has not been raised.

But, what does that mean for my everyday life? It is easy, I think, to keep the resurrection of Jesus as a box to check off when we’re listing doctrines, and less a reality which impacts how I live. Yet, the resurrection means that my life – and yours – looks differently than it would otherwise. Why? Because we have been baptized. Paul and the Apostles speak of baptism being into Christ. That means we are joined with him – in his Body, the Church, as well as into his death and resurrection. “Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.” (Romans 6:3-5). Because I have been baptized into Christ – who himself was crucified and raised from the dead – I too have a new life. That is why we make the sign of the cross – to remember our Baptism into Christ.

What does this new life look like? It is a life free from slavery to sin. “What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?...We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin.” (Romans 6:1-2, 6-7). We are free, in the power of Jesus’ resurrection by the working of his Holy Spirit, to live lives worthy of God. Instead of being led by the flesh, we are led by the Spirit.

What does that mean? It means that we can truly begin to love God and to love our neighbors. In the book of Acts, when thousands of people are coming to faith because of the word they heard proclaimed – that Jesus was raised from the dead! – they showed us what it means to live lives of love. “The full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common. And with great power the apostles were giving their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all. There was not a needy person among them, for as many as were owners of lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold and laid it at the apostles' feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need.” (Acts 4:32-35). They counted nothing as their own, not only because all of what they had was a gift from God, but also because loving their neighbors was more important than their own ‘security.’

Living a life of resurrection love means living a life without fear – fear of loss, fear of judgment, fear of the unknown, fear of persecution, even the fear of death. Truly, all of those are still ugly, difficult, and even evil. Yet, if God can raise his Son from the dead, how much more can he – and will he! – overcome sin, death, and the power of the devil for us by raising us from the dead when Jesus returns!

Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia!

Pastor Squire