“What the world calls virtue is a name and a dream without Christ. The foundation of all human excellence must be laid deep in the blood of the Redeemer’s cross and in the power of his resurrection.”
– Frederick W. Robertson –
What power does it take, I wonder, for a dead man’s stale-aired lungs to refill with living breath?
For a still, quiet heart to lurch into a victory march,
For decomposing tissue to knit back seamless
And blood to gush and pulse in gloriously awakened veins?
To restore soul and body ripped apart by death takes the same Divine breath that enlivened Adam’s first stirring.
In a garden, God breathed and the first Adam rose,
And, after millennia of death-throes, a maid of Adam’s flesh begets a greater Sequel.
He, too, awakes in a garden, a living, unblemished soul, filled with the breath of God,
Beyond time and years and ages, a Man so far above the first, yet stooping to humanity’s form (Philippians 2:5-11).
So long before, the garden-dweller of the beginning thought to make himself god by following a serpent, as the serpent also had coveted the high throne of God (Isaiah 14:12-15).
The second, the new yet ageless, the Divine, thought to make Himself man, and this second Adam set to crushing the crown of that snake who sought to make an everlasting Waste of Eden (Genesis 3:15).
“But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive.”
– 1 Corinthians 15:20-22, NKJV –
In the garden of tombs, Mary went to weep over a good man’s body–a good, dead man’s body. But no–he was gone. Perplexed, Mary turned to search, and through tears saw a man.
The gardener? So she thought.
And wasn’t it true, that it was the gardener? It was He, the Gardener of a new, forever Eden, springing up from the earth, where like a dying seed He rose up again to new life, resurrection for more than Himself–food for many hungry and drink for those who thirst (John 12:23-26). Planting Himself as a mighty Vine to flood life into dry branches, this Gardener joined the plants of His own tending as one of them, a plant to bear seed that would make the whole garden sprout new-creation green.
What did Jesus come for? Why did He die? And, once dead, why did He have to rise?
“He came to undo the disaster and tragedy that Adam had effected. Adam had been set in the garden; it was almost as though God did for Adam what a kind father would do….God gave his son Adam a little start. He said to Adam, ‘Here is a garden. Your task is to tend this garden and to expand this garden until it fills the whole earth.’ Strikingly God commanded Adam to do this until, as it were, all the kingdoms of this world were his. If Adam had done that, just like a child who accomplishes something even though his father gave him a significant start, he would have brought it all back to his Father and said, ‘Father, look what I have done! I want you to have it all!’ So Adan’s fall was not just a matter of personal sin; it was a matter of cosmic disaster. He lost the world and Satan gained it….Our story, as human beings, began in a garden. Adam turned the garden into a wilderness, and Jesus went into the wilderness to deal with the enemy, in order that he might turn the world into a garden again. Isn’t that wonderful to think about? To return to Mary in the garden: John, who seems to love double entendres, records that Mary saw Jesus and supposed him to be the gardener (John 20:15). Jesus wanted her to see him like that, but it wasn’t just that little space that he was gardening. By his resurrection, he was ‘gardening’ the whole cosmos.”
– Sinclair Ferguson, These Last Days, from pages 9-10, 12-13, emphasis mine –
Suddenly, for me, Eden is a personal possibility. If the victory belongs to our glorious Christ, then why on earth do I need to go on living defeated? Why should I keep living with the shallowest love, the flightiest joy, or the most tenuous peace?
The resurrection means I have everything I need. I am not merely cleansed–I have access to God Himself, and will Him, everything necessary to obey Him.
If Christ is risen, and He, too, is mine, then what can I lack?
At my fingertips is the “exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead” (Ephesians 1:19-20).
Grace, costly grace, asks not a penny from me. But with the outpouring of cross-forgiveness comes its sister, the power of His rising.
Can I be content to go on living in slums when the riches of His abundant grace are mine by inheritance?
Why should I go on in weakness when He is strength at my side, alive and ready to fill me?
So it’s true: Because He lives, I really can face tomorrow. Because Jesus is alive, I can have joy for today. Because He rose, I now can love as I ought, because the power He promises me–that sin-breaking, exceedingly great power–is the very same power that lifts bodies from death.
If God can wake the dead, don’t you think He can fill this new-created child with Himself?
Raising His son, God the Father looked down on His atonement and smiled.
And it was good, very good. Good as earth had not been since the first days,
Full of grace and power and love again,
The power for a dead man’s stale-aired lungs to refill with living breath…the power of Christ–Christ in you and Christ in me,
Christ the Living, the Resurrected, the Hope of glory,
The One who will bring us to completion, until all His bought ones shine with His light.
“And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence. For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell, and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross.”
– Colossians 1:18-20, NKJV –
Thank you to Public Domain Pictures and Larisa Koshkina for today’s lovely photo!