“Don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too might live a new life.” [Rom. 6:3-4]
We Christians are a strange lot. We spend six weeks in somber humility. We talk of sin and confession. We sing what seems like dirges, weighing heavy upon the soul. We watch a man eat a final meal with His friends, pray a prayer of torment, taken into custody, stripped, beaten, condemned, nailed to a cross, suffer and die a tortuous death and placed into a tomb. Then, like a grieving widow, in our lives and on our actions, we want to jump into the tomb with Him as we remember Paul’s words: “Don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death?” Baptized into His death?! — strange words indeed.
Oh, but dear friends in Christ, the weighing down of Lent, the heaviness, the confession of sins – all that only heightens the final word. We are indeed “baptized into His death!” We join in a somber procession of knowing that we are poor, miserable sinners. But the second part of the verse lifts us up again – it resurrects us! “Just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too might live a new life.”
Oh, the exultant cries, Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia! – don’t they mean that the victory is won, heaven is ours? Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia! – does that not mean that eternal life is ours, that the empty tomb of our Lord Jesus is our empty tomb as well?? We are risen! We are risen indeed! – does that have implications for the here and now as well as for eternity? The resurrection speaks of victory over sin, death, hell and devil. But, it also speaks of victory over all the nasty stuff of life – stuff like sin, stuff like failure, stuff like anxiety and temptation and worry! The resurrection says that we can take that stuff and drown it!! – “buried with him through baptism into death!” “Jesus Christ is risen from the dead … that we may live a new life!”
Strange?? Well, maybe for eyes that do not see through faith. But for those of us who have watched with eyes of faith as our Savior went the way of the cross – endured its horrible cost – it makes all the difference in the world! For us who cling to the cross, we revel that in life and in heaven, in this world and in the world to come, and in problems of living on this side of heaven, the FINAL WORD is this: Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia! A most blessed Easter Season to all!