I remember the first family funeral I had to deal with as a child. My grandmother, who I loved dearly, died when I just beginning high school. She was the first person I would usually see in the morning. When I was a child, she picked me up from school. She often made my dinner and took care of me. Her death was felt deeply.
I remember the first time I went to her graveside. It was a sad, lonely feeling. Cemeteries have such a finality to them. I can imagine what Mary Magdalene and the other women felt then they went to the tomb of Jesus in the early morning hours to prepare His body. There was no doubt a heaviness that weighed on them.
But when they got to the tomb it was not as they suspected. Instead of finding their beloved master dead, they were confronted by an angel who said, “He is not here, He is risen!” I think it would be hard to put ourselves in their shoes. Needless to say, no sweeter words were ever spoken!
The first thing those women experienced was confusion. But then Mary, thinking herself to be speaking with the gardener, discovered that she was in fact speaking with Jesus himself! After her initial shock, no doubt the realization of what was happening began to dawn on her. Her reaction was first to grab Jesus and cling to Him with all her might. She was determined – she had lost Him once, she wasn’t going to lose Him again!
I don’t think we can imagine the elation and joy that dear woman felt in her heart at that moment. I suspect that she experienced the sensation of having a great weight removed from her shoulders.
I’m reminded of the words of Jesus in John’s Gospel when Jesus said, “If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” Mary, and other women experienced a sense of freedom when they were able to receive their Lord back again from the dead. But that freedom doesn’t end with the women who were standing next to an empty tomb. With the resurrection of Jesus, a whole new freedom was introduced to the world.
With the resurrection of Jesus, we were given the Freedom from Fear: The Bible says:
“Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery” (Hebrews 2:14-15).
With the resurrection of Jesus, we now understand that life does not end at the grave. Death no longer has power over those who have come to faith in Jesus. Death is a great enemy that has been defeated. Fear need not grip the heart of people any longer. Jesus has taken the sting out of death. The fear of the unknown is removed. The fear death is removed. The fear of separation and loss is removed. He has replaced fear with peace. He has replaced the uncertainty of the grave with confidence and assurance (cf. John 14:1-6, 19).
Not only do we have freedom from fear, but with the resurrection of Jesus we have freedom from doubt: The Bible says:
“‘Behold, I have come to do your will.’ He abolishes the first [temple sacrifice] in order to establish the second [the sacrifice of Jesus]. And by that will [where the Father sent Jesus to be the sacrifice for the sins of the world] we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all” (Hebrews 10:9-10).
With the resurrection of Jesus there is no longer any doubt about our salvation. Because He was the sacrifice for the sins of the world, all those who place their trust in Him are eternally sanctified before God the Father. This means that we are cleansed from all our sins through the sacrifice of Jesus; and when the Father looks upon us, He sees only the purity that Jesus has given us. The Bible says, “As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us” (Psalm 103:12).
There is no longer any doubt about eternal salvation. The Bible says those who trust in Jesus have passed from death to life. Because of the resurrection of Jesus, they have passed from judgment to full acceptance. There should never be any doubt about the eternal destiny of those who place their trust in Jesus. As the hymn says, “Jesus paid it all, All to Him I owe; Sin had left a crimson stain, He washed it white as snow!”
With the resurrection of Jesus, not only do we have freedom from fear and freedom from doubt, but we also have been given the freedom to love: The Bible says:
“But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ – by grace you have been saved – and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Eph 2:4-9).
Because of the resurrection of Jesus, we learn about and experience a love that transcends understanding. It says, “Because of the great love with which He loved us.” We can never love God until the fires of His loves kindles the fires of love in our own heart. The Bible teaches this when it says, “We love because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19).
The reason there is so much misery in this world is because we seek to place our affections where they were never meant to be placed. All we experience as a result is sorrow and loss. But we were created to love God above all things. When Jesus was asked about the greatest commandment, He said that we were to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength” (Mark (12:30).
Because of sin, we lost our ability to love God. With that loss came a deep-seated dissatisfaction with life. As a race we have spent our energies on everything under the sun, seeking to bring fulfillment and relief to that tormenting dissatisfaction. But the more we try to bring fulfillment apart from God, the more anguish and dissatisfaction we experience. With the resurrection of Jesus, we are given the ability to once again love God. Through Jesus Christ, every barrier that prevented us from loving God was broken down. And when the warmth of His love touches our heart, it kindles within us life – true, eternal, satisfying life.
That’s why Jesus referred to Himself as the waters of life. When we drink from His well, as He told the Samaritan woman, we shall never thirst again. He comes to quench our thirst and bring us eternal satisfaction by bringing the love of God to us. As Billy Graham said, “The cross is God saying to the world, ‘I Love you.’”
Indeed the Bible says, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).
We were created to love God and to be loved by Him. When God places His love in our heart, all fear is gone. Fear has to do with judgment. With His love we are able to experience the purpose for which we were created.
What is our response to this?
“That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fullness of God” (Eph 3:16-19).
God wants us to know His love; and in so doing to be filled with all the fullness of God. Our response is to allow Christ to dwell in our hearts through faith. This is the doorway and entrance to the freedom that Christ brings. Faith is the key that opens this door.
Today He offers you that precious key. All you need to do is reach up, take it, and open the door that leads to the “glorious liberty of the Children of God” (Rom 8:21).