by Melissa Brotton | 20 April 2019 |
“I come to the garden alone.” (C. Austen Miles, 1912)
Those who walked in darkness have seen a great light (Is. 9:2).
Resurrection and Creation: “Behold, I make all things new.”
Jesus’s death and resurrection is forever tied to spring. This connection is no accident, as the Torah’s emphasis on the Passover as a springtime event provides a natural connection between Christ’s sacrifice and His offer of new life—God’s re-creation.
As I have been spending time in nature these past months, hiking and walking, I have heard the most beautiful and distinctive songbirds—the house sparrows with their chirrups that end in a chain of delicate tremolos, the house wrens with their sustained, high-pitched vibrato, the lilt and trill of the bluebird. These song patterns change according to time of day, mating status, and predator proximity but still retain the sound quality identified with each species, causing me to stand in awe of Jesus’s creative forethought and attentive detail. Leafing and budding trees, the Goldkist Apricot in my yard with its tiny fruit appearing, and, best of all, newborn wildlife venturing out of nests, holes, and caves, each reveal spring’s peerless character of renewal in the wonder of its witnesses. These tokens call to mind Jesus’s creative power expressed through His voice in the beginning, for He is the First as well as the Last.
Light of the World: “The Bright and Morning Star” (Rev. 22:16c)
Jesus came into a world of darkness as the light of the world (John 1:5). The Resurrection provides undeniable affirmation of Jesus’s successful mission to reveal the Father. It solidifies the promise that Jesus will shine His light on our paths to make our way clear, “like the light of dawn, which shines brighter and brighter until full day.” (Pr. 4:18). Jesus reclaims His identity as the Bright and Morning Star and His authority as the only true Shepherd of His people. By defeating His enemies, Satan, sin, and death, Jesus has risen to the most prominent place amongst the hosts of God and His throne.
Springs of Living Water
David speaks of the joy of restoration with God. This joy is akin to experiencing the newness that spring brings us, yet the joy of salvation is a much deeper and more abiding experience than spring can possibly give us. Jesus brings forth the wellspring of the heart, the life of the Spirit that only He can supply. The joy of salvation comes through repentance and God’s re-creation of our spiritual nature in His image. Through this process, we sense the wonder of His forgiveness and love, which, welling over, leads to desire to serve Him.
New Birth—A Spring Event
Before the foundation of the world, the Father chose us in the Son to be His children (Eph. 1:3,4). God’s Son chose to die in our place before His breath created our lives, while we were yet nothing more than a thought in His heart. Water baptism signifies the new birth going on in the heart, when Jesus enters and revitalizes our spirits. Environmentalists such as Rachel Carson may have warned about the coming “silent spring,” alluding to the effect of human activities that destroy the earth, but a life with Jesus brings a freshness of life and hope that become an eternal spring, a sign of the future He has for the new earth as well.
Road to Emmaus: “Did not our hearts burn within us?” (Lk. 24:32)
Jesus’s resurrection is the assurance of the strength needed for our road ahead. I believe the road to Emmaus is a part of every believer’s experience—a sudden flush of awareness that He is near. As our older brother, Christ goes before us, and we can follow Him in full confidence that He knows the path, the trials ahead, and the wonders that await us at the journey’s end.
Priesthood of Jesus: “Mercy drops round me are falling” (D. W. Whittle, 1863)
The Resurrection has opened the door between Heaven and earth for what is quite possibly the most intimate of all of Christ’s work with humans, His high priestly ministry. In this special role, He hears and answers prayer, applies the sacrifice of His blood to each believer, prays for us to His Father, and calls others to become His children. Through His devoted friendship with each believer, Jesus changes our old ambitions, gives us new affections, banishes wayward thinking, affirms our faith, and establishes His victory in our lives, bringing us back into our Creator’s image.
Kingship of Jesus: “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever.” (Ps. 45:6a)
Hours before His death, Jesus claimed His kingship to Pilate, ending with the statement, “But now my kingdom is from another place.” After Jesus’s resurrection, He received His authority to rule the universe forever. As the “Root and the Offspring of David,” Jesus fulfills the prophecy of the infinity of the Davidic throne (Rev. 22:18; Ps. 89:3-4, 29). “Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end” (Is. 9:7a). Jesus has established His never-ending Kingdom on the earth through His earthly ministry and devoted followers “from that time on and forever” (Is. 9:7c). Jesus reigns now in the highest place, directing His work, appointing His Heavenly and earthly servants to uphold and expand His government, founded on His just and righteous authority. The Davidic Psalmist says,
Your people shall be volunteers
In the day of Your power;
In the beauties of holiness, from the womb of the morning,
You have the dew of Your youth. (Ps. 110:3)
Jesus’s resurrection means that He is a King forever with an ever-growing family.
New Bodies; New Minds
The Resurrection was Christ’s new entrance into His glorified form, the form He had before He came as a human into the world, just as He prayed for in John 17. Just as Jesus changed in physical form after He was raised from the dead, He promises to deliver us from our bodies of death and to give us new bodies, made to last for eternity. Not only will we have new bodies but we will also have new minds even as we retain our unique identities. Because Jesus rules in the hearts of His followers, we are set free from the power of sin and the love of darkness to walk in His light, to attain to His likeness.
Jesus’s resurrection points the way to His promise to “receive us unto Himself.” One night, years ago, I stood on a stage in front of a large, camp-meeting audience in a small question-answer panel. On the platform beside me was my academy math teacher, Mr. Tommy Thompson. The moderator had just posed the question, “What does the resurrection of Jesus mean to you?” I have no recollection of what I said, but I clearly remember what Mr. Thompson said. Looking intently at the moderator, he said in his low, calm voice, “I never understood ‘the blessed hope’ until I stood over my father’s grave.” The audience echoed their agreement. Years later, and more loved ones lost since that night, I heartily affirm his answer. Jesus’s victory over death provides a pathway to God’s family reunion with loved ones we long to see again.
Jesus, the Dayspring from on High
Encountering Jesus’s death and resurrection awakens in me a thrill of promised new life, an infinite wonder of the Creator’s imagination, the hope of seeing my loved ones, and the ultimate satisfaction of seeing Jesus’s vindication of His rightful authority on the earth. Best of all will be seeing Jesus’s face light up as He sees what His sacrifice has accomplished: “He shall see the labor of His soul, and be satisfied” (Is. 53:11a). The Psalmist assures us we will reflect His joy:
“They looked to Him and were radiant,
And their faces were not ashamed.” (Ps. 34:5)
For when the truth of Jesus’s immeasurable love permeates the heart, a flood of joyous worship is a natural response. This experience of the believer is the true Spring, next to which the cyclic season is but a mere representation. And to know this “tender mercy of our God,” in the face of Jesus will be our ultimate reward (Lk. 1:78a).
Melissa Brotton teaches writing and literature courses at La Sierra University. Her special areas are nineteenth-century British literature and religious studies. She has published on the poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning and Biblical ecology. She spends a lot of time outdoors, paints, and writes nature stories and poems.