by Alex McFarland
During the Easter holiday even the usually secular news media acknowledges Christ’s death and resurrection. At this time Christians throughout the world contritely and gratefully mediate on what Jesus’ loving sacrifice means for each of us; on Good Friday even a jaded world can’t avoid the reality of an historical event forever unequalled in magnitude–God came to earth and made salvation possible.
Deep down . . . a lost world knows. I am convinced that all human beings–in spite of words and actions to the contrary–know in their heart that God exists and that we are somehow accountable to Him. Creation itself groans (literally, “agonizes”) in wait for Christ’s return and for the complete restoration of all things that will result (c.f., Romans 8:22).
Christ’s resurrection: History’s biggest “paradigm shift”
It has been said the Jesus’ physical emergence from the grave–corroborated by eyewitness testimony and resulting in the birth of history’s largest faith movement–the most verifiable fact of the ancient world. Think of the implications of Jesus’ victory over death: It moved pious Jews to abandon a centuries-long observance of a Saturday sabbath, and to begin worshipping on Sunday (“resurrection day”).
Within a few decades after the cross, Christianity was well on its way to transforming the lives of people everywhere. Throughout Rome, the Middle East, Europe, and ultimately throughout the civilized world, the spread of the Gospel reshaped morals, religious practices, government, family life, science, and the arts. Christianity’s influence on education and its emphasis on brining literacy to the common man cannot be overstated.
But on a personal level, let’s reflect on the freedoms we have through Jesus Christ. His hard-won victory on the cross gives us these five liberties:
1. Freedom from guilt that all inherit
The Bible says in 1 Corinthians 15:22, “In Adam all die.” Physical death–and the risk of spiritual death–are universal realities because of the sin we inherit from Adam and Eve. In Christ we are forgiven, promised a home in heaven, and are set free from guilt.
2. Freedom from sinful deeds we personally commit
We have all “known the right but done the wrong.” Sinful actions not only put a wedge between us and God, they also result in numerable negative repercussions.
Christ forgives our sins, and the indwelling Holy Spirit can give us the strength to overcome temptations.
3. Freedom within ourselves over personal struggles
If we are willing, God’s Spirit can even help us overcome sinful habits that may have held us in bondage for years. Whether the issue is a gnawing remorse over past bad decisions, feelings of worthlessness, emotional pain from abuse, or just fear about tomorrow- Jesus gives us peace within. The Gospel is our way to peace with God, and is also the key to peace with ourselves.
4. Freedom from judgment that is ultimately coming
Jesus is in the process of restoring a broken world. “Eschatology” is a term referring to what the Bible says about “last things.” One day the entire world and universe will be made brand-new (Revelation 21:5). Just as there is a global, universal eschatology–Jesus gives us a joyous personal eschatology. This fallen world is under judgment, but Jesus has made the believer exempt!
5. Freedom to face eternity, and our soul’s final destiny
Hebrews 9:27 says, “It is appointed for people to die once–and after this, judgment.” We may not want to think about our own mortality, but it is unavoidable. There is a date that we will leave this world, and God knows when that date is. It is very freeing to know that we are ready to face God!
The Resurrection is proof that God will make all things new
Not long ago, I was asked to visit the friend of a friend who had been arrested and put in jail. The facility was very bleak, with rough gray concrete everywhere and seemingly endless hallways of bars and flaking paint. An air of gloom and hopelessness permeated the place, and this was reflected on the faces of the inmates.
The place where I visited the inmate in question was a very small courtyard in the middle of the building. There were a few concrete squares in an otherwise dirt courtyard. The dusty courtyard couldn’t have been more than around 80 or 90 square feet, with razor wire covering its opening along the roof of the jail. This courtyard reminded me of forlorn places I have been in third-world countries.
Suddenly, I noticed a small flower growing up against the concrete wall in one corner. It was the only bit of vegetation in this otherwise lifeless place. Invisibly, some breeze had carried a grain of pollen over the roof and into this tiny open area within the prison facility. The bleakness of the surroundings made that one little flower all the more vivid.
When you think of the bondage, sufferings, and entanglements that permeate this world, the freedoms that we have through Christ appear all the more precious.
Jesus is the flower of beauty in our barren, dusty world. He absolves the guilty who are imprisoned by sin. The heart longs for freedom—and finds it in Christ.