I took a step to follow Jesus 20 years ago. From that point on, conversations about Him with other believers have become commonplace. But I’ve noticed negligible heart transformation within me. Apart from faithfully attending Sunday activities and doing some daily Bible readings, I generally lived and reasoned like the rest of the world.
I heard Jesus preached every Sunday, but I had neglected to consider how His life, death, and resurrection unveiled what it means to be truly human and how this impacts us as His disciples.
It would be years of examining the Scriptures along with intentional conversations about who Jesus is and working in the mission field before I would learn that, as His follower, He has called me to usher in the Kingdom of God wherever I was. Jesus did not come merely so I can go to heaven when I die. He came for so much more than that. He came to establish His authority, reclaim creation, and show me how to live.
Jesus walked into death so I could learn to face death
I lost my Mama in my early twenties, hurling my life into darkness—darkness you could taste and touch. She was the constant in my otherwise very confusing and uncertain life. Her death set the stage for anger to take a hold of me. For a time, it was how I dealt with the pang of losing her. I was lost, and I was bitter. God brought me healing in the coming years, and revealed much of who He is during this period.
Eight years later, I lost my Papa three days after my wedding. I had so much joy. Then I had so much grief. I went from life to death almost overnight. I don’t know how I held it all. I only remember that God provided me with deep, abiding peace that He will work it all out for my good as He promised (Romans 8:28).
I can’t claim to understand death, but I do know the pain and the destruction that comes with a life lost. Most of us resist death with all our strength. So when it arrives, it shatters us. Death is not a choice we even consider.
But Jesus chose it. When Jesus knew His hour had come, instead of asserting His power to protest and resist this step, He chose to submit and serve (John 13:1-5). He willingly entered death to bring humanity peace and reconcile us to the Father (Colossians 1:20). Yet even death could not hold Him (Acts 2:24), and on the third day, He rose from the dead (Luke 24:6-7).
Jesus’ humility to submit to death and ultimately defeating it provides me with a ground to stand on and hope: Death is not the end but an entryway to a new kind of life that He inaugurated. A life where serving is a habit, humility is a normal response, and generosity is the standard.
Jesus’ whole life (and death) made forgiveness possible
The complexities of my childhood fostered in me an unforgiving spirit. Guilt and shame made up my identity, and I lived in perpetual embarrassment of who I was—desiring to be different but never able to escape the cycle of self-reproach. Mistakes terrified me because I always felt the need to prove myself blameless, yet I never believed that I was. I had a hard time forgiving myself and others.
When I first became a believer, the concept of forgiveness was one of the hardest for me to understand. But Jesus opened the door of forgiveness for me and showed me that nothing is out of reach for Him. I was in a Bible study for almost a year when I found myself one day in a place of utter joy, assured completely of His mercy and forgiveness. His story quietly altered my beliefs. I felt released from my guilt and uncharacteristically decided to be baptised in His name.
There are still days when I fall back to my old habit of living in guilt. But the Holy Spirit never fails to remind me of this simple truth: I am forgiven. Jesus paid dearly for that forgiveness with His blood. In turn, I daily choose to learn to forgive myself and forgive others. I strive to let go of offenses and let grace do its work.
Jesus’ submission teaches me how to yield
I recently found myself in a very disheartening situation that blindsided me. I felt misplaced, which made me angry and frustrated. All I wanted was to quit.
But as I was writing this reflection, the Holy Spirit reminded me of my prayer on the first day of this year. I had asked God to kill my pride and ego, and to soften my heart towards submission and to respond in humility. He then showed me that this was an occasion for me to act on that prayer and re-align my attitude with Christ’s.
When Jesus surrendered His life, it did not make sense to His followers. It seemed foolishness for Him to die, but He knew He had to do it to break the power of death and sin. In doing so, He bought new life for us—a life lived in and through Him, that calls for submission and humility (Luke 9:23, Philippians 2:5-8).
Submission is not one of my best qualities. I am inclined to assert rather than deny myself. But I have not given up working on this, because the Holy Spirit has not stopped giving me opportunity after opportunity to follow Jesus’s example.
In the ensuing days, I practiced laying my frustrations at the feet of Jesus in prayer. I decided to confront this setback head-on with His mindset. I am still in the midst of this situation, but I have felt the Holy Spirit release me from my disappointment and reawaken His joy in me the moment I made a step to obey Him.
Jesus’ resurrection gives me the power to live like Him
Jesus is now alive and seated at the right hand of the Father (Mark 15:19). And as Ephesians 2:6 says, “God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus.” This actually means that while I am still physically here on earth, at this very moment, I am also seated with Christ in the heavens.
And so, Jesus’s resurrection is an invitation for me to participate in the Kingdom life: As God’s child, seated with Jesus in the heavenly realms, I have the same presence and authority Jesus had when He was on earth, to preach forgiveness and freedom wherever I go.
Knowing this gives me confidence and conviction to love deeply. It opens the door for me to enter His presence and pray for the sick and struggling. It invites me into His strength to walk with others in their pain and permit others to see my pain.
Jesus’s resurrection gives me cause to work towards giving and not simply providing for myself, to speak the truth even when it is hard, to let no corrupt word proceed out of my mouth, but only what is good and edifying (Ephesians 4:25-32).
Christ’s resurrection is the anchor of all that I do. Knowing that Jesus is alive as declared in the Scriptures assures me that nothing I do in His name is purposeless. It guarantees me that whatever I have surrendered for His kingdom has value beyond what I can imagine in this lifetime. Jesus will one day return, and with His return comes the new heaven and the new earth (Revelation 21:1). God will bring everything together under the authority of Christ (Ephesians 1:10).
This reminds me that life as I know it and the earth I am experiencing is not the fullness of what God has intended it to be. I hope and pray that this mindset will continue to shape my everyday life as I actively wait for Jesus’s return.
My challenge for all of us this Easter season: Spend time dwelling on Jesus’ resurrection and sift through our lives, asking this question, “How has Christ’s resurrection influenced the way I live?”