Christ lives

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"I have the authority to lay down (my life), and I have the authority to take it up again. This commandment I received from My Father" (John 10:18). This is what Jesus said about His death and resurrection. We do not have the authority to lay down our life. We have no choice - we must die. As sinners we receive the wages of sin, which is death. Neither do we have the power to rise up to live again. Only Christ had that power. But when He carried our sins to the Cross and appeased God's wrath, He conquered death for us. Already in Baptism we have been buried with Christ and have also been raised up with Him. When we, therefore, believe in Jesus, we are death's conquerors, and we are already living a new life as a gift from God.

This life is still a life of faith. For our eyes behold something altogether different: Sin still clings to us, we experience tribulation, we fear what the future may hold for us, we get sick, grow old, and one day we will die. But faith presents Christ as a counterbalance for all this, and He is pure forgiveness, comfort, peace, joy, life, strength and courage. For He lives and is always with His own, not only during joyous, good days, but also during our deepest sorrow and even in death. For this reason we rejoice in spirit, even when we sigh according to our flesh.

During His earthly life Jesus raised people who had died and in this way demonstrated His power and glory. But these people returned to their former bodies which were still subject to sin and death. The resurrection is something altogether different. Because Christ rose from the dead, He now has a new mode of existence. True, He has the same body as before. He showed His wounds to His disciples; and doubting Thomas, by touching Him, was permitted to determine that He was indeed Jesus. Jesus was not a spirit, but had a body, flesh and bones. Nevertheless He is different from what He was before. His body has been glorified. Those who depart from this life in faith can rise to the same type of existence. Time and place will no longer shackle them, hunger and thirst will not trouble them, the cares and sins of this life will be forgotten, they will enjoy perfect peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. We will be in a more secure position than Adam was in Paradise. Adam fell into sin, but in heaven no one will fall.

The message of Easter is a message of joy. Jesus says: "I am the Resurrection and the Life; he that believes in Me, though he were dead, yet shall he live" (John 11:25).