Lisa craved to be adopted. Every morning she opened her eyes, imagining waking up in her own bedroom with her own mother gently caressing her cheek and her own father warmly smiling in the doorway. She daydreamed sitting at the dinner table, recounting the events of her school-day to parents leaning in with excitement. She closed her eyes each night dreaming of a father pushing her on the backyard tree-swing while mom beamed with pride.
Then it happened. A soft voice floated through the air, “We’re thinking about adopting you.” Lisa looked up to see a blonde-haired woman wearing a flowered sundress standing in the doorway beside a clean-shaven man whose arm wrapped around her waist. “But, before we adopt you, we want to bring you home for a month,” she continued. “At the end of 30-days, we will make our decision.”
Can you imagine the emotions twisting through Lisa? She hugged both tightly, but made sure not to pinch them. She hopped out to the car with her bags, but still gently loaded them into the trunk. She gladly finished her chores, but anxiously wondered if her parents were satisfied. For 30 days she obeyed and respected and made sure not to be the cause of frustration or irritation. Only after day-30 would she know if her efforts were enough.
Another couple stood in her doorway. This time a firm declaration went out: “We have adopted you. You have become our family. You are one of us.” No trial period. No conditions. The papers were signed; the adoption finalized.
How do think Lisa responded to this second set of parents? She would obey them! She would respect them! She would love them! No, not because she fears rejection. Rather, she loves because she is set free from fear! She loves because she is accepted already! The conditions of Lisa’s adoption governs how she lives.
The same is true for you. The conditions of your adoption govern how you live. That is an important truth to remember as you live your Christian life. God sets your attention on the empty tomb. There you discover: The Resurrection Brings New Life. You have been born into victory. You have been born to overcome the world.
The resurrection really does change everything. Because Jesus lives, you also will live (John 14:19). The disciple John connects the events of the resurrection to your life now. Yet, before he ever tells you how you live, he starts by reminding you who you are. Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God… Remember what the name “Christ” means. [It means] “Anointed One.” To “anoint” means to “set someone aside for a specific purpose or mission.” Jesus is not “set aside” to free the Jews from Roman rule. He is not appointed as a motivational Speaker with words to inspire you for a better earthly life. No, Jesus is “anointed” (or “set aside”) for the specific purpose of taking away your sins (John 1:29).
That is what Jesus comes to do for you— because without him, you (and I) are dead. The Bible says, You are conceived and born in sin (Psalm 51:5). The punishment for sin is death (Romans 6:23). You cannot change that fact. If you are without sin— never hating, never lying, never gossiping, never holding resentment— if you are perfect, you have no fear of death. Yet, death comes to all because all sinned (Romans 5:12). You are dead by nature, doomed to eternal death in hell. Not just that, you are dead spiritually (Ephesians 2:1). You cannot live to please God. You cannot choose to come to faith by praying and inviting Jesus into your heart (John 15:16). The Bible makes it clear: Faith comes from hearing the message and the Holy Spirit creates faith in the heart (Romans 10:17; 1 Corinthians 12:3; Titus 3:5). Just like Lisa could not choose her parents, you (and I) cannot choose to come to faith. Without Jesus there is no eternal hope.
That is why John holds Jesus up high for all to see, as though saying, “Pay attention! Look! This is the one who came by water and blood—Jesus Christ. See Jesus walk into the water of the Jordan River at his baptism. The heavens instantly rip open, the Holy Spirit comes down as a dove and God the Father trumpets: “This is my Son, whom I love, with him I am well-pleased” (Matthew 3:17). It’s as though a spotlight shines on Jesus, highlighting him as special. This man right here(!) comes from heaven. He is perfect. He is your payment, your Substitute for sin.
[Jesus] did not come by water only, but by water and blood. He not only lives a perfect life, but he gives a perfect life by his death on the cross. On Mount Calvary Roman soldiers crush thorns into his skull. Nails are pounded into his hands and feet. A soldier spears his side. As Jesus’ blood trickles down the cross, his life slowly trickles away until he dies. For three days he lies in the grave. Then on Easter, he rises from the dead. He appears to you saying, “The wages of sin has been stamped ‘Paid in Full!’ Peace be with you!” (John 20:19)
Jesus is the ‘Christ!’ He has been set aside for the specific purpose of adopting you into the family of God. His blood is the ink which frees you from the orphanage of hell. His perfect life are
the adoption papers that declare you his. He brings you up to God and says, “This is my Father—and now he is your Father too” (John 20:17). Jesus lays a hand on your shoulder saying, “My house has many rooms. I have your room prepared” (John 14:2-3).
What have you (or I) done to deserve this? If you look at the words you have used over this past week, if you honestly reflect on the selfish thoughts you had, if you admit the hurt of your actions, you realize you have done nothing. Jesus has done it all— free of charge!
The Resurrection Brings New Life. Keep looking back at the empty tomb and see that You have been born into victory. Because Jesus lives, you already have victory over death. You will not stay in the ground forever, you will rise immortal. You will not enter hell; you will enter heaven. [You] who believe that Jesus is the Christ [have been] born of God. God has brought you an entirely new way of life. Not just life to look forward to, but a new way of life now. You have been born to overcome the world.
That’s what John says. [F]or everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. The Bible often uses [the word] world as a reference to everything that stands against God. The “world” can refer to a proud, arrogant attitude. The “world” can refer to the greedy love for wealth in this life. The “world” can refer to adultery, murder, stealing, gossiping, hatred, love for anything that is not God— the actions non-Christians do not consider to be wrong (1 John 2:15-16). Remember who you are. You have been adopted into God’s family. Since you live with God, it means you live on the side of God. Since you live on the side of God, it means you stand opposed that which stands opposed to God; you stand against the world.
You have been born to overcome the world— to fight against sinful desires. Better yet, you now life a Christian life. But, what does that mean— a Christian life? The kneejerk reaction is to say, “Live a ‘good’ life?” Here’s the question: “What is a ‘good’ life?”
God does not leave it up to you (or me) to determine what a Christian life is or how it looks. He simply says: This is how we know that we love the children of God: (1) by loving God and (2) carrying out his commands. This is love for God: to obey his commands. A Christian life is obeying the Ten Commandments.
Before you set out by saying, “Alright! I can do it!” Remember your motivation for loving God. Little orphan Lisa obeys, respects, and loves her new parents. Why? Not because she must succeed in trial period. Rather, she loves because she is already accepted! Lisa has nothing to earn or prove. Lisa lives out of thanks for her new parents. In the same way, you (and I) love God’s commands. You have nothing to prove to God. You are not trying to earn his love; you already possess it. You are not trying to make sure you go to heaven; you already have a room there. You are set free from the fear of rejection. This is why John points you to the empty tomb first. Since (1) you already are made a child of God by faith, (2) you are free to live as a child of God by faith.
So, you have been born into a new life which overcomes the world. No longer is life about fighting to get more money. You already have heaven! What more is there to gain? So, you give generous offerings to God because God has been generous to you. No longer must you fight to gain more popularity! God calls you “His.” What better title is there? None! So, you are kind and patient to those around you. You encourage the depressed. You let others go first. You put the needs of [grand]kids ahead of your schedules. No longer do you hold onto grudges in order to hold onto power over another. God holds no grudge against you. So, you work to reconcile with your family, your child, your friend. You have been born to overcome the world. See what Jesus has made you. See how you live on his side. As a result, you will naturally stand out from those who stand against God.
The conditions of your adoption govern the way you live. Remember little orphan Lisa. Her first set of parents demand that she earns their love. She cannot do that. Yes, she would obey. She would love them. Yet, she would never know if it was enough. She would live in constant fear. Yet, being chosen by the second parents motivates her to an entirely new way of living. She loves because she is set free from fear! She loves because she is accepted!
My friends, Easter Day continues every day. Jesus rose from the dead once— and the results continue on. As you ponder how to live a Christian life, first set your attention back on the empty tomb. It all starts there. Jesus has adopted you into God’s family. No trial period. No conditions. The papers are signed with the life and blood of Jesus. The adoption is final.
So, you are set free for life. You live free to serve and others. No, not because you must, but because you already have everything. The Resurrection Brings New Life. You have been born into victory. You have been born to overcome the world.