Behold! I AM Making Everything New!
In Bible class a few weeks ago, we talked about humanity's biggest problem--sin. The first humans were given one command—just one. But they chose to disobey that one command. As a consequence, everything in creation became cursed and started to die. Death is the consequence of sin. Sin always destroys. And the destruction of life… is death.
Creation is now corrupted—subject to disease… and death … and decay—all because of the power of sin. Have you noticed that we humans spend a lot of time thinking about death? Especially now in these dark days of COVID-19. The morgues in New York City are overflowing with death. They’re stacking bodies in refrigerated trucks. Coronavirus has forced us to confront our own mortality. Everyone reading these words will one day die. If not from COVID-19, then by something else.
We try to distract ourselves from thinking about death. We try to cheat death by eating right, working out, and making good choices. While we might succeed in delaying death, we know we can't stop it. Because to overcome death, we must first overcome sin. And we’ve proven to be not very good with that. It’s impossible for us to overcome our sins. And so, we are powerless against death.
Jesus: The Remedy for Sin and Death
We need a savior! That’s why God sent Jesus! Through the death of Jesus on the cross, God defeated the power of sin. Through the resurrection of Jesus from the tomb, God defeated the power of death. Jesus … and only Jesus … can give us eternal life. And He does so by the power of His resurrection (1 Peter 1.3-4).
On the pages of scripture, a lot of people are raised from the dead. Elijah raised the widow's son in Zarephath. Elisha raised the Shunammite widow's son. I dearly love the story in 2 Kings 13 where the pallbearers at a funeral are attacked by a band of marauders. They ditch the body in the tomb of Elisha and when the corpse makes contact with Elisha's bones, it comes back to life!
In the New Testament, Jesus resurrects three: the son of the widow of Nain, Jairus' daughter, and, of course, Lazarus. In Acts, Peter raises Tabitha and Paul raised Eutychus. I'm thinking Eutychus never again dozed off during a sermon. The Bible tells us that at the moment of Jesus' death, an untold number of tombs were opened and the bodies of the dead appeared to many.
All these were resurrected! So, why is Jesus' resurrection so special that it has its own holiday? Well, all those others died again. Their resuscitation to life was only temporary. Not so with Jesus. Jesus rose from the dead never to die again. He has eternal life. And, as we saw in last week’s sermon, eternal life is the gift that Jesus gives to us.
1 John 5 says This is the testimony--that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.
If we are "in Christ" we already have eternal life. We are living it now… and it will never end. Yes, we will all taste physical death (unless Jesus comes back first). But for those who are in Christ, death is not a period … only a comma.
The Dawn of a New Creation
Because of sin, creation is dying. But in the resurrection of Jesus, God began something new--a new creation! In Revelation 21, John describes God’s ultimate fulfillment of His eternal plan. Through the death and resurrection of His Son, God abolishes sin and death and inaugurates the new creation. He redeems everything! John writes, Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.”
Paul calls Jesus "the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep." In the resurrection of the Messiah, the new creation has begun! And guess what--we get to be part of it! In our baptism, we participated in the death and resurrection of Jesus. We are now in Christ (Gal. 3.26-27). And look at Paul's declaration from 2 Corinthians 5.17, "If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come."
Everything is being made new through the death and resurrection of Jesus! And by virtue of our baptism, we are part of what God is doing. In baptism, we participated in His death, burial, and resurrection (Rom. 6.3-5). New life! Isn’t it wonderful? We’ve been raised to a new life—part of the new creation, with a new identity, a new humanity living under a new covenant because God is making all things new!
God loves making things new. That’s why Jesus came. That’s why Jesus died. That’s why Jesus rose from the dead. Because God wants to make a whole new YOU. All of us have been invited to participate. If we will but submit to the Lordship of Jesus, He will make us new. And He will teach us how to live a newly-resurrected life.