Summary: What does it mean, to be raised up with Christ and seated in the heavenly places? (#17 in the Every Spiritual Blessing series)
It was going to be a beautiful day, at least, insofar as the weather was concerned. One could tell. It was still some minutes until sunrise, but it was one of those early pre-dawn mornings when the air smelled fresh, there was hardly any breeze, the night dew was drawing a damp but pleasant odor from the grass and the various flowers of the garden, and one could just tell that apart from the present, horrible circumstances, it was going to be a nice day.
But the women had come to tend the body of someone they had loved and even worshiped. The nightmarish events of the day before Passover still played themselves over and over in these grieving minds and hearts. The celebration of their highest holy day had been drab and empty. They had gone through the motions, but there had been no joy in it...no promise. Suddenly, the wonderful things God had done in the midst of the Egyptians to free His people had lost some of their splendor. What good were miracles, when the miracle worker lay torn and bloodless in the cold ground?
They had thought this One was to be the Deliverer of whom Moses had spoken. Somehow, His humiliation and ignoble death had set their hopes back to the beginning, and the Passover celebration this year only served to awaken them to the fact that the One they were waiting for, if He would ever come, was somewhere still out there...perhaps far out...in the future.
All their hopes had been dashed. But that would not keep them from dressing their dead loved-one.
As they neared the burial site however, they were greeted by an astounding vision. The entrance of the tomb was not blocked by a stone, as they had last seen it on Friday afternoon. Pilate’s seal was broken, the guards were gone, and the stone was standing aside. Even more amazing, was that there was a man there, sitting on the stone, in gleaming white clothing. He seemed by himself to illuminate the entire garden, though it was not quite day.
As the women stood, mouths gaping in awe, he said, “Do not be afraid; for I know that you are looking for Jesus who has been crucified. He is not here, for He has risen, just as He said. Come, see the place where He was lying. And go quickly and tell His disciples that He has risen from the dead; and behold, He is going before you into Galilee, there you will see Him; behold, I have told you”.
After that they saw Him. Mary saw Him and spoke with Him in the garden. Others saw Him in the locked upper room where they were hiding from the Jews. He ate with them. Two walked and talked with Him on the road to Emmaus. In the coming 40 days, many other selected witnesses saw and spoke with Him and touched Him and ate with Him; on one particular day, over 500 people saw Him at once.
He was different now. He had changed. His glory was not concealed any longer. He existed in a different realm now. He appeared and disappeared at will, and nothing hindered Him. Not locks, not walls, not the Jews or the Romans...nothing.
Finally, in the presence of His apostles, He rose from the ground in absolute sovereignty over gravity and all natural law, and disappeared into the clouds of Heaven.
This is what we must never forget. According to Paul, this is what has become of the Christian. Nothing less.
“...(He) made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places, in Christ Jesus”
I want to talk to you today about what it means to be ‘raised up’. Last time we met in Ephesians we discussed what it was to be dead. You may remember my illustration from the movie, “Death Becomes Her”, and my zombie-like description of the one dead in trespasses and sins. I won’t go over all that again.
But I’ll ask you to pull what you can remember of that sermon from your mental file, and to make the contrast sharp as we can, consider where you, where we all, were raised up from.
Uselessness, Godlessness, hopelessness, utter decadence and decay.
Then, having considered that, we will leave it behind and focus on the brighter message; WHAT CHRIST NOW IS, WHAT WE NOW ARE IN HIM, and WHAT WE SHALL BE.
WHAT CHRIST NOW IS
Let me say to begin, that Christ is what He has always been. Hebrews 13:8 says “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, and today, yes, and forever”. He is God, one with the Father and the Holy Spirit, and has never been less than that at any time.