by Fred Pruitt
When I was a child, I read wonderful stories from the Bible, and people told me that there was a man called Jesus, who was the Savior. They said He had risen from the dead at Easter, and that was why we celebrated Easter. As a child I believed the stories they told me. The Jesus they spoke of did good and helped people. It was no stretch to my child’s mind, which had no experience of death, to believe such a thing could happen.
When I was an adolescent and young adult, I began to doubt the things I had believed as a child. Santa Claus had gone long before, and as my reasoning adult mind was developing, it seemed right to look around into all the other possibilities and ideas that were in the world. Why limit myself to only the things my parents and my culture had told me, when there were so many other things out there? It then became unreasonable for a time to believe in a Savior (I did not think of myself as someone who needed to be saved), and the resurrection they spoke about seemed as mythical as any other childhood stories I had delighted in, and I sadly found myself discarding it in my new-found intellectual “maturity.”
But by grace the Shepherd I had only dimly believed in as a child sought me out. Like the poem’s “hound of heaven,” he chased me down and contended with me. He met me at the heart of my doubts. He soothed my fears. He overlooked my pride. What I had accepted with a child’s heart as a babe, He blossomed in my heart into an adult understanding. I ran from Him, but finally had to fall on my face before Him and say, “You ARE Truth; You ARE Life; You ARE the Way!” And then it was easy again to believe He had indeed risen, as they testified, on that Easter morning 2000 years ago in Palestine.
That was many years ago. Now all these many years since then, the resurrection I’ve had the most difficulty with, has not been believing that Jesus of Nazareth rose from the grave. The difficulty has been to believe that when He rose, I rose with Him. That when the Father lifted Him up to new life forever, that He has now done the same in me. This is what it means to no longer know Him after the flesh, as the Apostle Paul tells us. I am a new person. I don’t know this “after the flesh,” as Paul said. I am not the old man any more.
Jesus rose. This we know. But the reason for it, and the promise of His resurrection, is that we ourselves rise — now — Now — NOW — to newness of Life. That we might NOW be the life — by His Spirit, by His power by His strength — ourselves.
That is the further and ultimate meaning of Easter. That is why He came, why He ministered, why He died, and why He rose again. That we might be, as Paul told us in Ephesians, “together” with Him, quickened together, raised together, and finally SITTING TOGETHER in heavenly places in Christ. (Eph 2:5,6).
Like Lazarus. Can we believe that we were dead before we knew Him? We must know Him before we can know we were dead. There must be the contrast of life, of scales falling from our eyes. Lazarus knew Him before He died. But now that we know, can we also realize that when we realize and fall into the totality of death, (crucified with Him) that His voice comes out of the darkness, and calls us to COME FORTH?
“Lazarus, COME FORTH!” cried Jesus. Who would have believed that Lazarus, a dead man already in putrifaction, would come out of the grave, and not smell of death? But he did. Later he and his sisters dined with Jesus.
This not about Lazarus, but about you and me. Easter is about you and me. You have been called out of death to LIFE! It it the Lord Himself Who has called you.
We were dead in Him — in His Cross. But now He speaks the Word as a Living Truth. COME FORTH!
“Remove the graveclothes from him, unbind him,” spoke Jesus.
Our Easter is to realize that He is speaking about us, and to us! Jesus commands the graveclothes to be removed. Shall we not obey the Lord?
RISE, SHINE, THY LIGHT IS COME!