The frail woman tiptoed down the watery staircase into the baptismal toward the pastor, aided by a young deacon to keep her from slipping. Ms. Sue had struggled spiritually for years, doubting the legitimacy of her salvation. She knew in her heart that what she thought was a faith in Jesus was really just faith in her religious service. Now at 87 years old, she decided it was time to truly give her life to Christ.
The pastor and the deacon handled the tall slim woman like a porcelain doll, carefully sliding into place to lay her gently in the water—pastor in front and deacon behind. The pastor began, "I baptize you, my sister, in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Buried with Christ in baptism …"
Before he could finish the words, Ms. Sue flung herself backwards with abandon. The deacon was hardly ready for her enthusiasm, his reflexes springing to catch her as the waters covered her face. From the balcony I saw her smile emerge from the splashes, the glow of pure freedom upon her lovely wrinkled face. She was at peace, finally buried with Christ in baptism and raised to walk in newness of life.
Death and resurrection is for all Christians
That was the day Ms. Sue died. She finally said goodbye to her old self—the religious devotee, the white-washed tomb full of dead man's bones. And it was also the day she was born—an 87-year-old baby girl. It was her death and resurrection day, and she would never be the same.
That's what Easter celebrates. Yes, we remember the death and resurrection of Christ and what he did for us 2,000 years ago. But it's more than that. Easter is also the observance of our own death—the death of the inner man and the resurrection of our souls in Christ.
Easter reminds us that Jesus was only the first of the resurrected people. All Christians have risen from the dead. As Romans 6:4 says, "We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life."
Our new birth frees us from the bondage of sin. We are no longer chained to the dungeon of hopelessness, but free to climb out of the darkness and into the light.
Our new birth fills our hearts with purpose. The seeds of good works bring forth fruit. The spirit flourishes and everyone around us benefits from the blessings of generosity, kindness, and love for our fellow man.
Our new birth provides life everlasting. The corrupted flesh is destined for death, but like a cocoon, the old flesh leaves behind a butterfly—the glistening, pure white spirit which will never see death. As Jesus said in John 11:25-26, "I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die."
Easter should renew our hope and inspire us to live in light of eternity. The sorrows, pain, and horrors all come with the flesh, but we have a new life coming. We, the spiritually resurrected, have the answer for the world in its suffering. We know the one with the key to death and hades (Revelation 1:18). So let us proclaim the wonderful story of our own death and resurrection.
What is your story?
Your own personal Easter story is your most valuable spiritual tool. Revelation 12:11 says that Satan is defeated by the blood of the lamb and the word of our testimony. The death and resurrection of Jesus was a miracle, but our own Easter experience is a powerful demonstration of what a life given over to Christ can offer.
Your story is an eye witness to the miracle of what God has done in you, and the world cannot deny that. The evidence is there to see—a new heart with new desires, just as the Apostle Paul explains, "I have been crucified with Christ, and yet I live" (Galatians 2:20).
This Easter, take some time to consider your own resurrection story. How did God transform your life from prisoner of sin to heir of His throne? How has your heart been filled with hope and purpose? How has your marriage improved, your parenting changed, your hobbies changed? As Peter implores us, " … Always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you …" (1 Peter 3:15).
And when you know your story, tell it. Tell it to everyone that will listen. Tell it to your kids. Tell the people at work and even the people at church, where people like Ms. Sue think they have their life all figured out. Write it on your blog or social media site. Give God the praise and honor for it. And celebrate all that God has done for you, especially on Easter.
But maybe you don't have a story. You've been in church your whole life, and this makes no sense to you. Perhaps you've been baptized and lead the Bible study committee, but you don't have a story. You've never experienced death and new life.
If that's you, then it's time to take up your cross and be buried with Christ. Give your life away so you can find it (Matthew 10:39). Ask God to change you on the inside. You're never too old, never too experienced. Just ask Ms. Sue. If she can do it, so can you.
Copyright © 2017 by Sabrina McDonald. All rights reserved.