This weekend, we celebrated the most crucial, world-changing, heart-rendering, paradigm-shifting, life-reorienting truth in the universe: Jesus is alive.
While they were perplexed about this, suddenly two men stood by them in dazzling clothes. So the women were terrified and bowed down to the ground.
“Why are you looking for the living among the dead?” asked the men. “He is not here, but he has risen! Remember how he spoke to you when he was still in Galilee, saying, ‘It is necessary that the Son of Man be betrayed into the hands of sinful men, be crucified, and rise on the third day’?” And they remembered his words. (Luke 24:4-8)
If the then, now, and future life of Jesus is true, then it ought to transform everything. Everything ought to look different in light of this world-changing truth. If Jesus is alive, then everything is different. And though we will particularly celebrate that truth this Sunday, we ought to remember that Jesus is alive on every day of our own lives. When we lose that fact, when it drifts from our memory, then we might well find ourselves in the same place as these early followers, treating Jesus as if He were dead instead of being alive.
What happens, then, when we forget? What does that look like practically? Perhaps at least these things start to happen:
1. We Begin To Live in Desperation.
When we are desperate, we operate exclusively in the realm of “now.” We have to act NOW. We have to decide NOW. We have to take advantage NOW. Our behavior is rash and extreme—no time to think; no time to consider; no time to breathe. Only time to act. This is what happens when we forget Jesus is alive. We completely lose our perspective on time, circumstances, and priorities.
That’s because if Jesus is not risen, then NOW is all there really is.
Because this moment is all there is, we find ourselves acting in our own self interest, always feeling like we have to manufacture our own solutions regardless of whether those solutions contradict our morals and ethics. But also because this moment is all there is, we find ourselves living constantly for the pleasure of a given moment. Paul was, of course, right when he wrote:
If the dead are not raised, Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die. (1 Cor. 15:32)
2. We Cease To Rest.
We drift toward living in a sense of desperation when we forget Jesus is alive; similarly, we also cease to be able to find any kind of real rest. It’s important for us to remember, though, that rest is not taking a nap; it’s not zoning out for a while; it’s not every going on vacation, though many of those things can help with rest.
No, real rest is not just the ceasing of activity; real rest is about a state of the soul. It’s about knowing that there is nothing left to prove because Jesus has finished His work:
Come to me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take up my yoke and learn from me, because I am lowly and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. (Matt. 11:28-29)
But if Jesus has not been raised from the dead, then His work was not, and is not, truly finished. As a result, we find ourselves with nowhere and no one upon whom to cast our own burdens.