Romans 8:1-11, The Message
With the arrival of Jesus, the Messiah, that fateful dilemma is resolved. Those who enter into Christ's being-here-for-us no longer have to live under a continuous, low-lying black cloud. A new power is in operation. The Spirit of life in Christ, like a strong wind, has magnificently cleared the air, freeing you from a fated lifetime of brutal tyranny at the hands of sin and death.
God went for the jugular when he sent his own Son. He didn't deal with the problem as something remote and unimportant. In his Son, Jesus, he personally took on the human condition, entered the disordered mess of struggling humanity in order to set it right once and for all. The law code, weakened as it always was by fractured human nature, could never have done that.
The law always ended up being used as a Band-Aid on sin instead of a deep healing of it. And now what the law code asked for but we couldn't deliver is accomplished as we, instead of redoubling our own efforts, simply embrace what the Spirit is doing in us.
Those who think they can do it on their own end up obsessed with measuring their own moral muscle but never get around to exercising it in real life. Those who trust God's action in them find that God's Spirit is in them—living and breathing God! Obsession with self in these matters is a dead end; attention to God leads us out into the open, into a spacious, free life. Focusing on the self is the opposite of focusing on God. Anyone completely absorbed in self ignores God, ends up thinking more about self than God. That person ignores who God is and what he is doing. And God isn't pleased at being ignored.
But if God himself has taken up residence in your life, you can hardly be thinking more of yourself than of him. Anyone, of course, who has not welcomed this invisible but clearly present God, the Spirit of Christ, won't know what we're talking about. But for you who welcome him, in whom he dwells—even though you still experience all the limitations of sin—you yourself experience life on God's terms. It stands to reason, doesn't it, that if the alive-and-present God who raised Jesus from the dead moves into your life, he'll do the same thing in you that he did in Jesus, bringing you alive to himself? When God lives and breathes in you (and he does, as surely as he did in Jesus), you are delivered from that dead life. With his Spirit living in you, your body will be as alive as Christ's!
Do you know there is no Gospel reading for this day?
When I looked for one - there was none to be found.
How profound is that!
On this darkest day of all - the day after death, the day before the stone is rolled away - there is literally no good news.
So I went looking through the texts for small signs of light. One of the psalms for the day was hopeful. But we've done a psalm two out of the last three days.
The Hebrews lesson felt slightly cumbersome for this unusual day.
And then I checked out the evening reading - Romans 8. And I found Peterson's rendition of those opening verses and I thought..
...there it is.
The Good News cannot be kept silent, even on this day.
It must be proclaimed. Slithering and sliding out from under that stone and bursting into daylight, Paul's words 'sing and shout the victory!'
Read them again.
Hang onto them with all your might.
Store up the singin' and the shoutin'...
'cause Sunday's comin'!
yes, ma'am -
Sunday is coming.
We're busy today, Lord. Family and friends are gathering, there's food to fix, clothes to tend, children to wrestle to the ground to put on their bonnets and ties. But, oh Jesus - help us not to lose sight - even in the middle of all the early Easter celebrating - help us not to lose sight that you were IN THE TOMB all day long. Dead and gone - gone forever for all any of your friends knew on that lonely day. So help us to carve out a quiet corner somewhere to think about that, to reflect on the depths of your love for us, and to ready ourselves for the turning point in history. We wait with you, Jesus. Help us to wait in love and gratitude.