“Resurrection Sunday” is the climax of the greatest story of breaking free ever told. It’s more than an account of the most amazing escape from confinement ever accomplished. It’s “the” greatest source of hope ever offered to those who feel helpless and bound.
Having acknowledged that, it’s also wise to stop and reflect on the fact that bondage can take many forms. Prisons that isolate and confine people aren’t always buildings surrounded with walls and barbed wire. Captivity doesn’t always involve the use of shackles and chains, and slavery isn’t always enforced by burly overseers with leather whips. Sometimes prisons are designed and constructed by those who eventually become confined within them. Their walls are built by a series of bad choices borne of desperation and fear. Slavery for some is the end result of a willing subjugation to the pursuit of pleasure. Some are held by relational and circumstantial shackles that are stronger than those made of steel. And just as the nature of bondage varies, so does the vision of freedom so coveted by those who are bound.
The Need for Adjustments ~
At least one thing is universally true of those who are finally released from some kind of bondage. Whatever their idea of freedom may have entailed previously, they quickly learn that life on the other side of deliverance is radically different. Breaking free is one thing; living it is quite another. Freedom is a priceless gift, but the transition from one world to another can take some getting used to.
For instance, those who’ve had their lives controlled for an extended time by forces they are powerless to overcome develop a concept of themselves and the world that is fashioned in the context of their bondage. Their view of who they are, what they’re worth, and what their life is about is seen through the lens of the circumstances governing them. Their definition of reality and sense of purpose is largely dominated by the familiar, and often painful, events of their captivity. Anything outside of that, including the possibility of breaking free, is more like a treasured fantasy than something real, a world vainly hoped for, but forever out of reach. What happened on that first Easter morning holds the power to change all of that. Jesus’ resurrection changed the definition of freedom and altered our concept of reality for all time.
A Process to be Considered ~
Driven by the omnipotent power of His love, the Son of God invaded the fountainhead of human bondage and attacked the citadel from which every form of slavery emanated. He entered the dungeon that our sins create. He absorbed the raging torment that our selfish, unbridled passions unleashed. Finally, He embraced the lethal consequence that our rebellion demanded, and His perfect righteousness subdued it all. He confronted the devil who fashioned every chain that ever shackled one of God’s beloved children and rendered him forever powerless over them. Now, because of His overcoming victory, freedom is available to all. But there’s a process involved — and prerequisites to be considered . . .
Forgive me for pointing out the obvious, but in order to qualify as a valid resurrection, a verifiable death must precede it. You’ll recall that one of the early “explanations” offered by the religious authorities to contradict the news of Jesus’ resurrection was that Jesus’ disciples stole the body and hid it. But their denial wilted and died under the weight of the evidence Jesus provided. He simply “showed up” and revealed Himself in His new, renovated body.
The Requirement for Evidence ~
The proof of resurrection requires two pieces of evidence. There must be a lifeless corpse … a non-responsive body that exhibits no signs of life for an extended time. Then that same body that had obviously been dead must be revealed alive, responsive, and fully functional. Jesus offered overwhelming evidence of both. If we are to share the glorious freedom that the empty tomb represents, there must be a way to share the death that preceded it. The Apostle Paul affirmed that in his letter to the church in Rome:
Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? 4 Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. (Romans 6:3–4 NKJV)
The reality and power of resurrection is always manifested in and validated by the new life that follows it. As mentioned earlier, breaking free is one thing, but living on the other side of deliverance can be quite another. The resurrection Jesus invites us to share and the freedom that comes with it can be an incredibly powerful means of bringing others out of bondage, but if the evidence required to authenticate it is missing, then so is the power.
Condemnation Precedes Redemption ~
God declares that all of us were dead in trespasses and sins (Ephesians 2:1 NKJV). If we deny our sins and the condemnation they deserve, then any claim to the freedom Jesus offers loses its basis and its power. While our old nature will struggle with sin in the course of this life, we are no longer bound by its power, and that is the living message that each of us can proclaim in our Easter celebrations. The Apostle, Paul, summarized God’s desire for us concisely to the followers of Jesus in Galatia:
It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. (Galatians 5:1 NIV)
We’re living in a culture inundated with devices, situations, and mechanisms designed to enslave us. There are more addictive substances that are more easily available to more people than ever. There are more kinds of seductive sexual stimuli being broadcast in more ways to more people than ever in our history. There are more opportunities to engage in toxic relationships with devastating potential than ever before. The allure of perceived digital anonymity invites any and all to either vicariously or personally participate in every kind of moral and spiritual depravity imaginable. If our nation ever needed a fresh demonstration of what breaking free looks like, it is now.
Giving His Resurrection a Personal Definition ~
There’s no more powerful way to highlight the glorious truth of Jesus’ resurrection than by declaring a fresh commitment to be consistent, even courageous in demonstrating what breaking free looks like in our own lives. That includes a renewed determination to leave behind the old life, and with it, the shackles that bound us.. Once Jesus left the tomb, He didn’t keep going back to see if the grave clothes still fit — and maybe we shouldn’t either. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if someone who’s desperately hoping for some kind of evidence that breaking free is real, could find that evidence in some simple thing that one of us does or says this Easter season?
“TWEETABLES” ~ Click to tweet and share from the pull quotes below. Each one links directly back to this article through Twitter . . .
- “Prisons that isolate and confine people aren’t always buildings surrounded with walls and barbed wire. Captivity doesn’t always involve the use of shackles and chains.” @GallaghersPen (Click here to Tweet)
- “Sometimes prisons are designed and constructed by those who eventually become confined within them. Their walls are built by a series of bad choices borne of desperation and fear.” @GallaghersPen (Click here to Tweet)
- “Driven by the omnipotent power of His love, the Son of God invaded the fountainhead of human bondage and attacked the citadel from which every form of slavery emanated. His perfect righteousness subdued it all.” @GallaghersPen (Click here to Tweet)
- “Jesus embraced the lethal consequence that our rebellion demanded, and His perfect righteousness subdued it all. He confronted the devil who fashioned every chain ever to shackle one of God’s beloved children, rendering him powerless over them.” @GallaghersPen (Click here to Tweet)
- “While our old nature will struggle with sin in the course of this life, we are no longer bound by its power, and that is the living message that each of us can proclaim in our Easter celebrations.” @GallaghersPen (Click here to Tweet)
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