I want to premise this post with a little bit of information and perspective. This blog post is a culmination of all of the video scripts for this year's Easter Worship Experience at Rose of Sharon entitled Resurrection. I had quite a few people ask for me to share, so I decided I would blog the content rather than posting all of the videos. Enjoy!
The base scripture for today's discovery comes from the pen of the apostle Paul, which is the book of Colossians. Paul begins chapter three, "If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory."
A Resurrected Life
If then you have been raised with Christ...
Do you remember the story of Lazarus, the friend of Jesus that passed away? His sisters, Mary and Martha, sent for Jesus and when he got to them, they were both consumed by the grief of the loss of Lazarus and Jesus wept. He wept, and he then called Lazarus forth, losing the bonds of death's grip. Jesus put on display the power of resurrection afforded to the Son of God and Son of Man, but I believe there is so much more. Jesus wept. Now, some will tell you that it was because of the lack of faith on the sisters' behalf, but what if I were to tell you that this might not be the case? What if Jesus wept because the people were held captive by the same bonds of death as Lazarus? What if Jesus wept because humanity was never designed to submit to death, but rather to live forever with the Father? What if Jesus wept because in him all who believe will have everlasting life? What if Jesus wept because he is the answer they had yet to receive?
Once Lazarus burst forth from his earthly grave, there was a shift. What once was dead, was now alive! What flesh had already begun to decay and submit to death, was now rejuvenated and renewed! Death's grip on humanity was loosed! Grave's encasement of sinful nature, was getting a front row preview of what was to come when Jesus encountered the cross. What Satan meant to be the end of Jesus' friend, God made flesh decided to show us his resurrection power!
The power of the Easter story, the power of the cross is not the cross itself, but instead that God made flesh actively and willingly submitting to death, laying himself down as the sacrifice and payment for all sin. The reason why that is so powerfully real to us today is that he didn't stay on the cross, but was buried and arose three days later with the keys to death, hell, and grave in hand; destroying Satan and setting humanity up to receive redemption. The power of the cross is that Resurrection stepped in to save us! Jesus himself made that clear when he told Martha “I am the Resurrection (John 11:25)”. The power of the cross is that Resurrection offered himself to us and now that power flows through all of us who have accepted the cost of the cross and the salvation it brings. The power of the cross is that our faith activates Resurrection within our lives. We must live our lives day by day devoted to the cause of Christ, actively dying to our flesh in faith. Resurrection is a way of living, calling the dead to life.
A Resurrected Sight
Seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.
People knew Zacchaeus, and they knew what kind of man he was. In Luke's account of this event it is made apparent that not only was this man short in stature but he was also a polarizing figure as he was a Jewish tax collector for the Roman government. The Jewish community would have despised him as tax collectors of that day were notorious for taking a little extra for themselves for their own gain. Jews didn't like them because they felt betrayed by them and Romans thought less of them because they were Jewish. To say Zacchaeus and men like him had been placed in a tight spot is an understatement.
Zacchaeus recognized his limitations but realized that there was something different about this man they called Jesus and he determined within himself to overcome the obstacles of life he had been dealt to fix his eyes on Jesus, so he climbs up into a tree to catch a glimpse of the Savior. I am sure there were people taller than him who blocked his view, so he had to readjust here and there to see what he could see. What Zacchaeus didn't expect was to receive Jesus' full attention that day, and because Zacchaeus was so set on pursuing after a glimpse of Jesus, Salvation came to his house that day and fellowshipped with he and his family.
That tree became the vehicle by which Zacchaeus was able to see the Son of God face to face, just the same, the tree Christ died on is what enables us to experience him in all his glorious resurrection power. We, like Zacchaeus, have to fight against the crowd of opposition to fix our gaze on Christ; actively readjusting our sight, so Jesus is always in view, captivating our attention. Without a heavenly fixed gaze, you will only see what is in front of you, death and sickness and despair and limitations and status and stature and circumstances; but fixing our eyes on things that above means that all we need is ours (Matt 6:33) and all we need is Jesus.
A Resurrected Mind
Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.
Saul, on the road to Damascus, was greeted by the resurrected Christ and it changed him forever. In that encounter, Christ began to do a new work in Saul, giving a man who once persecuted the early church a new identity as Paul, one of the most charismatic and mission-minded Christians to ever walk the planet.
Out of all the people God could use to write the letters to the church and more specifically Colossians, he chose Paul, and it is for a good reason. You see, Paul got it. Paul understood it. A slasher of the status quo and a demolisher of the idea that it is only by law we obtain our eternal reward; Paul went against the grain of Jewish tradition, teaching that it is by the grace and mercy of God that we receive life forever with Christ in Heaven.
This man knew from experience that to live a life with our minds set above meant that we had to have a mindset that glorified and pursued a resurrected Christ. He knew that a heavenly fixed mindset was more than just aimless wandering, but a focused journey to follow the King who died and rose again. Paul knew that having a resurrected mindset meant that we had to strive to look more like Christ, casting aside foolish thoughts, abiding in the frame of mind where we gain the courage and tenacity to stand, therefore against all opposition.
In Ephesians 6, Paul writes that we do not fight against earthly things and that our minds and eyes should not focus on such, but that our battles are fought and won in the heavenly places. He goes on to say that we are to put on the helmet of salvation; our resurrected life helmet. In obtaining our salvation in Christ, our resurrection, we put on the helmet; the mindset and the identity of Resurrection.
After Paul talks about the helmet, his very next words are about picking up the sword, which is the Word of God. God's Word is the key to a resurrected mindset as it opens our minds and hearts up to who Resurrection is. Resurrection is the way, the truth, the light, the door, the life, the hope of glory, the everlasting, salvation, hope, and love. A resurrected mind is a mind in God's Word. A resurrected mind is a mind that understands the sword in hand is only a fancy fly swatter if it remains closed, unstudied, and it's contents are not absorbed. When we wield the sword that has shown us Resurrection, and our minds are Resurrected, Christ begins to develop the fruit, or the evidence, of one who is resurrected; the fruit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. A mind that is set on things that are above is a mind above reproach, a mind equipped against the attacks of the enemy, and mind ready to trample all opposition as it charges toward the heavenly goal.
For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
For generations, God's people waited for a King to rule and rescue them and when he came to them, they did not know him. They despised him, and they rejected him. They took one look at him, and they thought he was nothing, but he was God with skin and bones on. He showed the generations how to live and love as God desires, and humanity wouldn't have a part in it.
It was for our sin that he came and died; took our mess and placed it on his back, took the lashes of his beating for our healing and took his death for our redemption. It was our sin that did that to him; that held the Father's only Son on the cross. God sealed us with the contract of the cross, dipped his pin in the blood of his Son and declared "with this, it is done."
Christ did it all so that he could die a sinners death in our place. He did all of this, and then he rose triumphantly from the grave from a tomb that was not his own; a borrowed tomb he knew he didn't need it long. And on that glorious third day, Resurrection burst forth from the grave and with fresh breath in his lungs he restored man's access to God the Father. We who are in him now walk in that resurrection, complete with eyes, heart, and mind fixed on things that are above.
Because of Chris, because of Resurrection, we are resurrected, renewed, restored. We have received the fullness of God, the peace that passes all understanding, love that enables us to love the unlovable, joy in all circumstances, and the healing of our minds and bodies and spirits. We now have grace upon grace, hope for the future days to come, a family, a heavenly home, and we have the victory. This is Resurrection; a life lived wrapped in the love of a Father! This is Resurrection that a God so glorious would step in to save us! This is Resurrection!