Forming our lives around Jesus, so that we find salvation and kingdom life in him, is our focus. It is the heart of what it means to be a disciple and make disciples.
Easter is a great time to pause and examine a very important foundation for discipleship in Jesus.
According to Scripture, Easter and the resurrection leads us to imitate and obey Jesus, as His disciples. In our conversion, typified by baptism, the apostle Paul wrote:
“Or 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 may live a new life.” (Romans 6:3-4)
Not only is our sin and our fallen self put to death with Jesus in His crucifixion, but our new self, which is to be re-made in His image, is resurrected to live like Him. Paul also wrote of the resurrection:
“…Your whole self ruled by the flesh was put off when you were circumcised by Christ, having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through your faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead.” (Colossians 2:11-12)
Modern Christians tend to focus on the cross of Jesus and the price for our sin which was paid on that cross. This is good. However, the early church focused more on the day of resurrection than on the day of the crucifixion. The earliest Christians very quickly began to meet on Sunday mornings to mark the resurrection of Jesus. The earliest Christians did not observe the Sabbath on Sunday morning, but rather observed the Lord’s Day; the day of His resurrection. Stated differently, the earliest Christians identified more with the resurrection than they did with the crucifixion.
A focus on the resurrection and enthronement of Jesus as King leads us to focus on a new life of being conformed into the image of Jesus through imitating and obeying Him as His disciple. John the Apostle (under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit) went so far as to write that if we do not live in the likeness of the resurrection of Jesus, then we are not saved:
“…This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did.” (1 John 2:5-6)
Paul explains the importance of being a disciple of Jesus, crucifying the old fallen man, and living in the power of the resurrection:
“You heard about Christ and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” (Ephesians 4:21-24)
Paul (along with the rest of the authors of Scripture) wrote that the importance of living in the power of the resurrection of Jesus is that the image of God (that we were originally created to be) is resurrected and re-created within us. Moreover, as we are re-conformed into the image of God, we are able again to fulfill our original purpose of magnifying and multiplying the glory of God.
So, as you celebrate Easter this Sunday, we encourage you to celebrate that Jesus died for your sins and conquered our death. But more importantly, celebrate that through the power of the Holy Spirit and the resurrection of Jesus, you have been raised to walk in the likeness of His life.
Just as we can only celebrate the crucifixion of Jesus because of His resurrection, we can only celebrate that our sins have been forgiven because we have also been born again in His image. As Jesus told Nicodemus, “…No one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.” (John 3:3)
Good Friday has been a focus on the crucifixion, and a time of reflection on the death of our sin and our fallen selves. Easter is a joyful celebration of the resurrection, and of our new life of being re-conformed into the image of God through imitating and obeying Jesus as His disciple.
By Curtis Erskine & Bobby Harrington
At discipleship.org we champion Jesus-style disciple making. Each fall 1600 people, all serious about making disciples, gather in Nashville. We would love to have you join us!