Revelation 1:12-18 presents us with a vision of the radiant, resurrected Jesus:
I turned around to see the voice that was speaking to me. And when I turned I saw seven golden lampstands, and among the lampstands was someone like a son of man, dressed in a robe reaching down to his feet and with a golden sash around his chest. The hair on his head was white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire. His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters. In his right hand he held seven stars, and coming out of his mouth was a sharp, double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance.
When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. Then he placed his right hand on me and said: “Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. I am the Living One; I was dead, and now look, I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades.
Jesus Christ has conquered death and is alive today – right now – in heaven, holding all authority over death and hell. He is glorious and triumphant. This is our King – the one who knows us all by name!
The reality of Jesus’ glorious resurrection has tremendous ramifications that go far beyond our understanding, but here are three ways we can see it directly affecting us as we live the Immanuel Lifestyle:
Because of the resurrection, we can trust that the Jesus who walked the earth with calloused, dirty feet, healing paralytics and sinners, is the same Jesus who still lives at the right hand of God. The Jesus who lived in human skin 2000 years ago is the same Jesus we can interact with right here and now by the Holy Spirit.
If Jesus wasn’t raised, he would only be a historical figure. When we talked about the “spirit of Jesus,” we would mean no more than we mean by the “spirit of Martin Luther King, Jr.” It’s great to have heroes and ideals to live up to, but we need so much more than that. Thank God we receive so much more than that! We receive the Holy Spirit, who enables us to have a living, interactive relationship with the living, risen Jesus.
When we use Life Model and Immanuel Prayer principles and skills, we talk about bonding and attachment. We also face into trauma and pain. Here is another powerful implication of the resurrection: The resurrected Jesus who is with us now is the same Jesus who suffered. It’s not simply that he was human at one point in history and can say, “I’ve been there. I get it.” No! He is living in us right now. As Romans 8:11 declares, the same Spirit that raised Jesus Christ from the dead lives in us! And whoever is united with the Lord is one spirit with him (1 Corinthians 6:17). He himself said, “Whatever you did for the least of these, you did it for me” (Matthew 25:40). He fully identifies with those who are suffering. He doesn’t just say, “I’ve been there. I get it.” He says, “I am here. I see out of your eyes. I hear out of your ears. I feel with your gut.” That’s not all he sees and feels, but he does see it and feel it. And when we suffer, he suffers with us.
When Jesus was raised from the dead, the moment his followers encountered him and knew it was him – alive! - was the moment when their pain was transformed to joy. Just as with their individual lives, so with history: the turning point of history is the resurrection of Jesus Christ. He is alive for ever and ever. He’s never going to die or leave. He is with us and will always be with us. As with history, so with each of us: Jesus’ real, experienced presence in our lives is the moment when our pain turns to joy. The experience of being “with” - no longer alone but loved and cared for – begins the healing of pain and trauma. Our own lives, and human history, are not fully transformed yet. We don’t experience complete, unbroken joy. It's a bumpy road. But the turning point has come and the future is certain. Joy is coming.
I watched one of my seminary professors, Dr. John Goldingay, care for his wife Ann as she slowly succumbed to multiple sclerosis. He loved her well. He invited groups of students to his home and always introduced each of us to Ann, showing us how to include her in conversation even when she couldn’t respond. She passed away a few years ago. In his book Walk On: Life, Loss, Trust, and Other Realities, Dr. Goldingay wrote this:
“I have so longed to find somewhere in life some corner where joy is unmingled with pain. But I have never found it. Wherever I find joy, my own or other people’s, it always seems to be mingled with pain. And I find that the people I most respect are people who know the link between joy and pain. And I have found that if we will own pain and weep over it together, we also find Christ’s overflowing comfort. The bad news is that there may be no corner of reality where joy is not related to pain. The good news is that there is no corner of reality where pain cannot be transformed into overflowing joy.”