We’ve spent a challenging time together this Lent, giving up our offences. It has been a heavy series in which we have had to confront new and old wounds, in which we have had to wrestle with the cost of following Jesus, of choosing mercy as our Father in heaven gave mercy to us. For many, this series has been painful, intense and downright difficult.
But as we finish this series, I wonder if you’ve stopped to meditate on how Easter Sunday empowers us for this journey towards forgiveness? For the resurrection changes everything – even our capacity to forgive. Here’s how:
If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you. Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation…by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body. (Romans 8:11-13).
In the resurrection, God has declared the sacrifice of Jesus sufficient for all our sin and starting with Jesus he has begun the renewal of all things. Because Jesus is raised and ascended to the throne of heaven, the Spirit of God has been poured out on all of God’s people. And this means that the same power that raised Jesus from the dead is now at work in us renewing us day by day, helping us to live Jesus’ way.
The “If” at the beginning of that Romans 8 quote is not an if that calls into question whether or not we have the Spirit (for we know that all believers are sealed with the Spirit of God – keep reading in Romans 8 to see that!). Rather, the “if” is there to help us see the connection of the two ideas: IF this, THEN that. That is, if the same powerful Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, then you also can also expect that the same powerful Spirit is working life (transformational, renewing life) in you. Ultimately this means our own resurrection to eternal life, but it also has implications now – like the transformation of our character to look more and more like Jesus’ character.
So, we are not working only in our own strength and willpower to follow the (sometimes difficult) way of Jesus. No, that same powerful Spirit of God who raised Jesus from the dead empowers us to put to death the misdeeds of our sinful self (e.g. unforgiveness) and choose Jesus’ way. The same Spirit of God that raised Jesus from the dead equips us, teaches us, transforms us as we seek to follow Jesus. This is our hope, a hope of resurrection life, of powerful renewal by the Spirit which starts in our lives now and will be completed when Christ comes in glory.
If you are one who has found this series especially difficult and have at times felt like it is beyond your capacity to do – be encouraged by the good news of Easter: because Jesus is raised we are not in this struggle alone; because Jesus is raised sin and death are and will be defeated; because Jesus is raised we have hope for transformation starting now for the same powerful Spirit that raised Jesus from death is at work in us. We don’t walk the hard road towards forgiveness in our own strength. Nor do we walk it alone. So call on the risen Lord to help you take the next step, and know with confidence he will: IF the Spirit who raised Christ is living in you, THEN he will also give life to your mortal bodies (starting now!)
Christ is risen! Hallelujah!
Karen Reid, Curate