Messiah’s Death And Resurrection: How They Are To Change Us

The Rabbi from Tarsus was one of the greatest men who ever lived. God powerfully used him and his team to do many great things. They proclaimed the good news, started Yeshua-following communities in the Roman empire, taught Messiah’s Community, and defended the faith from those who were a danger to it.

Paul and his team were persecuted because of what they believed, and because of the message they proclaimed, and because of the things they did. They suffered a lot. They suffered frequently. At times they were persecuted almost to the point of death. And yet much good came out of their sufferings, because for the believer, suffering, death and life are connected.

The Rabbi reflected on this in his various letters:

1 Corinthians 15: Why do we endanger ourselves every hour? I face death every day. That’s a lot of suffering, frequent, serious, life-threatening suffering.

2 Corinthians 1: We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about the troubles we experienced in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. Troubles, great pressure, feeling as if we were close to death, forces us to rely on God, not on ourselves – and that is a very good thing. For the believer, life and death are connected.

2 Corinthians 4: We have this treasure (referring to their powerful ministry) in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Yeshua, so that the life of Yeshua may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Yeshua’s sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body. So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.

Life and death are connected. Death produces life. Death produces the life of Yeshua in us. Death produces powerful ministry.

2 Corinthians 6: As servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses; in beatings, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger … through glory and dishonor, bad report and good report; genuine, yet regarded as impostors; known, yet regarded as unknown; dying, and yet we live on; beaten, and yet not killed; sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything. Again, for the Yeshua-follower, suffering, death and life are connected.

Paul and his team were persecuted and suffered and felt like they were dying because of what they believed, and because of the message they proclaimed, and because of the things they did.

Each act of persecution against them was a death-like experience. Each act of persecution was like a cut. It was like they were being slowly killed, a little at a time. However, the more they were attacked, the stronger they became. The more they were persecuted, the more the refining fires burned away the unimportant things from their lives and the more like Yeshua they became. The more powerful and effective their ministry became. Their sufferings, their death-like experiences produced life in themselves; and that life flowed from them to others.

Now, we may not be experiencing the same degree of persecution and suffering and near-death-like feelings that Paul and his team experienced. We are not always being given over to death like they were. We might not face death every day like they did. However, like them, death is at work in us.

What do I mean by that? Because of our faith, we’ve been connected to Messiah. We are joined to Messiah. We are united to the life of the Son of God. Because of this, the great and important things that happened to Him happen to us. Messiah died. Therefore we are to die – die to sin; die to the sin nature. Colossians 3: Put to death whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed.

Messiah rose from the dead. He’s alive. Therefore we are to be alive in a new way – alive to God. Romans 6: Consider yourselves dead to sin but alive to God. I want to be alive to God, aware of Him, close to Him, communing with Him, living with Him and for Him. How about you?

Romans 6: Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Messiah Yeshua have been baptized into His death? Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Messiah was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. I want to live in that newness of life. How about you?

Philippians 3: I want to know Messiah – yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead. I want the very same thing that great Rabbi Paul did: to know Messiah, to know the power of His resurrection – now, in this life. I want to attain the resurrection of the dead and live forever with God. How about you?

However, the other parts that are connected to these great things – participating in His sufferings, becoming like Him in His death – well, that’s different. I don’t want those things so much. The truth is we can’t have one without the other: knowing Messiah in a deep way, having real spiritual power, attaining to the resurrection – without suffering and death.

We are to believe in Messiah’s death and resurrection because they really happened.

We are to believe in Messiah’s death and resurrection because they are the heart of the gospel, and God has commanded us to believe the gospel.

We are to believe in Messiah’s death and resurrection because believing in them are essential to salvation.

However, our belief in Messiah’s death and resurrection must go beyond mere intellectual knowledge. Our belief in Messiah’s death and resurrection must change us at a deep level.

Messiah’s death and resurrection must change us, change the way we think: our minds; our thoughts; our hearts; our values; our priorities.

Messiah’s death and resurrection must change us into little Yeshua’s – dead to sin, alive to God, alive to the gospel, full of divine life and power.

Lord, help us, even though it is difficult, to fully embrace Messiah’s death and resurrection. Amen?