Knowing Christ in the Power of His Resurrection
Topic: Easter Passage: Philippians 3:10–3:12
Grace Community Church
April 17, 2022
Knowing Christ in the Power of His Resurrection
On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. 2 They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, 3 but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. 4 While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. 5 In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? 6 He is not here; he has risen! Luke 24:1-5 (NIV)
10 I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.
12 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Phil 3:10-12 (NIV)
Near the end of his life, Steve Jobs mused about the existence of an afterlife, saying:
“For most of my life, I’ve felt that there must be more to our existence than meets the eye…I like to think that something survives after you die…But on the other hand, perhaps it’s like an on-off switch,” he said. “Click! And you’re gone.”
Jobs paused and smiled slightly. “Maybe that’s why I never liked to put on-off switches on Apple devices.”
It’s an interesting metaphor that Job uses: death is power off, life is power on. When God created us, He didn’t put on/off switches on us. Life is mysteriously turned on by God when a baby is conceived and then at some point for every one of us, life is turned off. We call that death; dying.
When Jesus died on the cross, he did something amazing. After saying “it is finished” Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Father, into Your hands I commend my spirit!” And then he switched the power off. It says he “gave up his spirit.” For most of us death comes and overcomes us and switches the power off, but not Jesus! He ran towards death and it was he, not death, that switched his power off.
Even on the cross, Jesus was Lord of all, including death.
Then, three days later, Jesus switched the power on again! Life coursed in his veins again, only it was different. It was resurrection life. Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here, he has risen! the angels said.
One of the greatest – if not the greatest lifelines of hope that the Bible gives us is that death is not the end, the grave is not the final word for the man or woman who believes in Jesus Christ, resurrection is and I want to close our time together by encouraging us with that hope.
But it’s important we know that the Bible doesn’t limit resurrection to something that happens after we die. Paul, in one of his most heartfelt, passionate moments, says I want to know Christ. That was his ambition – to know Christ. May that be our ambition too – nothing is more valuable in all the world – not even life itself – than knowing Christ.
Not just know about Jesus, know him!
Not just know what Jesus said, know him!
Not just know what Jesus did, know him!
But not just know Christ, know him in the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of his sufferings. These things have to go together because you can’t have Easter Sunday without Good Friday. There is no resurrection without there first being a death.
Jesus went down to go up. He had to suffer in order to save. And he calls us to follow him in that pattern. And we don’t want to. We get excited about the power of the resurrection. Not so much about the fellowship of Jesus’ sufferings.
I’ll take the resurrection, hold the suffering.
Listen, if you are a Christian then the switch of Jesus’ resurrection power is switched on in your life. Believe that! But you might wonder, as I have this week, why am I not experiencing more of it? Why don’t I feel like I have much resurrection life flowing through me? I think the answer is, there can’t be a resurrection without there first being a death.
The first home that Janice and I owned had a high window in the shower, and the water from the shower would collect in the sill and over time it seeped down and began to rot the wall and after a while a large hole in the sheetrock appeared. I tried fixing it by taping a garbage bag over the wall, but that didn’t come near to fixing the problem. There was rot through to the studs, a little plastic wasn’t going to fix it.
Eventually a carpenter friend had to knock the entire wall out and rebuild it.
Trying to apply resurrection life over our flesh is like trying to fix rotten wood by painting it. Or taping a garbage bag over it. It might look better but underneath there’s just rot.
The Bible tells us that the Christian life, and Christian power, is a pattern of dying with Christ and rising with Christ. It’s a series of mini-deaths and mini-resurrections. If we tape a superficial covering of resurrection power over our pride, we become religious snobs – the worst kind! We need to die to our pride in order to rise up in the newness of Christ’s humility.
If we want to love others with the love of Christ, we can’t do that in the power of our flesh. We can put on a superficial face of love, while underneath are rotten motives like selfishness, envy, apathy, pride, and such. So God puts us in relationships where selfishness rises up and Jesus says, “die to that.” And it doesn’t feel good – it feels like death. Maybe we are hurt or offended and our flesh wants to lash out and hurt them back and Jesus says, “die to that and forgive them.” And it’s a real death. We might find ourselves in a situation where our pride wants to boast and Jesus says, “die to that and humble yourself”.
Maybe what we need to die to is the desire for control. We feel we need to control things or we have no peace. Trusting God means dying to controlling. It might be where we need to die is to our love for our reputation. We want to witness for Jesus but we’re afraid people might think less of us if we do. Jesus says “die to your love of reputation” or “die to your need to be approved of”. And it feels like dying.
We die to self and it is death, but on the other side is resurrection in newness of life and in our suffering (even mini-sufferings) we experience a deeper fellowship with Jesus.
By the way, when Nick pulled off my garbage bag repair, he couldn’t just patch up a hole, he had to tear out the whole wall there was so much rot. So for a time our bathroom was exposed to the outside world. Sometimes God’s work in us makes us feel exposed and humbled before the world. God isn’t just putting a patch on us, He’s tearing the rot out down to the studs, so that He can rebuild us in Christ’s image.
This gives us a new way of looking at whatever challenge – or suffering – is going on in our lives. If you’re like me, you just want the suffering to be over, but Jesus wants to meet us in that suffering and draw us into a deeper, more intimate fellowship and that is worth way more than a comfortable life. Knowing Jesus is worth more than anything the world can give us.
Of course, there is no greater comfort for the believer than knowing that the cold, dark grave isn’t the end of the story. Jesus rose from the dead and promises that all who believe in him will also rise from the dead.
There are two massive moments in Jesus’ saving work that God did not allow anyone to see, did not allow there to be an audience.The first was on Good Friday at midday when God cloaked the world in utter darkness as He poured out His righteous wrath on Jesus.
The second was in that tomb. What a holy and brilliant moment it must have been as Jesus lay there dead, life switched “off” and then Jesus turned the switch on (by the power of the Holy Spirit through the Father – the resurrection was a Trinity affair!) and rose up in resurrection life never to die.
If the Lord tarries, one day each of us will be put to rest, but the switch isn’t on “off”, it’s on “sleep” and at that last day the resurrection power of Jesus will course through us and we will rise up in newness of life never to die.
Let’s praise God and thank Jesus that the tomb is empty! We don’t search for the living among the dead, he is not there, he has risen!