new life fellowship

serving jesus christ the king

April’s Verse

Within the Christian tradition there is a tendency to think of Jesus as the dying Saviour – for some he is always on the cross. There are images and statues and crucifixes all displaying Christ on the cross. Now, while this is a key aspect of what Christ came to do, it is not the focus.

Jesus did not come to evoke our pity or even our admiration at his suffering. He came to rescue a people who would then follow him in glad-hearted surrender. But you can’t follow a corpse.

He came to rescue a people so that they could joyfully live for him because they knew that he lived to transform them and take them to be with him. You can’t live joyfully for a corpse, not for the long run.

If we think only of Christ on the cross it fosters a kind of sour-faced guilt – look at what I have done. It keeps the focus on me and my sins. It robs us of the strength to joyfully live for him here and now.

That’s not how Jesus wants it – if he had, he wouldn’t have risen from the dead. Neither would he have appeared to John the Apostle and had him record for all time these words which appear on our calendar as the verse for April:

“I am the First and the Last. I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever!” (Revelation 1:18)

The Christians that John was writing to were facing savage persecution, and Jesus knew that what they needed was a reminder that he was no longer dead but alive, and alive forever. And if he was alive forever then that meant that he would triumph, and that death was not the end. It is a relationship with the risen triumphant Christ that transforms Christianity from a guilt-ridden ensnaring religion to a joyful freedom-giving reality.

His triumph means I can triumph. His triumph means I can be forgiven. His triumph means strength for today. His triumph means I can defeat sin. His triumph means I can have hope. And that gives joy.

Yes, we must go via the suffering saviour on the cross and have our guilt dealt with, but we are not called to stay there. We are called to follow and live for the risen Christ in glad-hearted delight. “I was dead, and behold I am alive forever.”

(based on the calendar given out by ourselves and the Baptist church)