You’ve undoubtedly seen it happen. A stone is tossed into a lake or a pebble dropped in a pond. You notice the immediate point of impact. But then, as you watch, you see the ripples.
Moving out from that center of impact, ripples spread out. An ever-widening circle of movement expands far beyond that initial center point.
That mental picture should help us as we think about Easter and the celebration of Jesus’ resurrection. If you attended a worship service on Easter, you likely heard about the initial point of impact — Jesus has been raised from the dead! Songs were sung, prayers offered, a message proclaimed. Attention was given to what many see to be the center point of the Christian life — a risen Savior.
But what about the ripples? What spreads out into life from that amazing and world-altering event? Unfortunately, for many, little attention is given to those ripples. Sadly, we might not realize how those ever-widening ripples really do wash over our lives in profound ways.
The inaugural announcement was clearly made by Peter on the Feast of Pentecost:
Men of Israel, listen to these words: Jesus the Nazarene, a man attested to you by God with miracles and wonders and signs which God performed through Him in your midst, just as you yourselves know — this Man, delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death. But God raised Him up again, putting an end to the agony of death, since it was impossible for Him to be held in its power. . . .This Jesus God raised up again, to which we are all witnesses. . . .Therefore let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ — this Jesus whom you crucified. ~Acts 2:22–36
Peter captures much in a few words. The resurrection of Jesus was part of the plan of God from eternity past. The resurrection of Jesus is a marvelous attestation to the finished work Jesus came to do. The resurrection of Jesus affirms that He is “both Lord and Christ”–He is the sovereign King who fulfills the promises of God made to the saints in the Old Testament (see also Romans 1:4). All of that is true.
But what about those ripples? Let’s just notice a few.
Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin.
Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, is never to die again; death no longer is master over Him. For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus.
~ Romans 6:4–11
Jesus Christ died in our place; He received in His body on the cross the punishment that was due us for our sin. We were, in a very real and “organic” sense united to Him in His death. That is how the substitution was made (Isaiah 53:4–12). But notice what Paul wrote about His resurrection.
Those who believe and trust in Him are also joined to His resurrection life. Yes, that means that the believing will, one day, have resurrected and glorified bodies like not His own resurrection body (Romans 8:23; 1 Corinthians 15:42–44; Philippians 3:21). But That He was raised to newness of life means that we who believe have also (already!) stepped into a newness of life. Sharing in life with Jesus, we share in His newness . . . now.
Because of the resurrection — and our being joined to Jesus in that life-altering event — we are no longer slaves to sin, we have been made dead to sin, and we have stepped into a life where we are wholly and genuinely alive to God.
It’s not merely a matter of trying to “think good thoughts” about how to live the Christian life. It’s a matter of coming to realize — and to experience — the ripples of the resurrection of Jesus that overflow our lives.