In the midst of the congregation, my pastor exclaims, “Christ is risen!” And the congregation responds joyfully, “He is risen indeed! Alleluia!” Today is Easter Sunday, or what I prefer to call Resurrection Sunday. On a Friday many centuries ago, Jesus the Son of God was crucified on the cross, our sins placed upon Him and taking God’s wrath, which we deserve. As our sins were placed upon Him, His righteousness is placed upon us and we are justified by faith (Romans 5:1). Three days later, Christ is risen from the dead! The tomb is empty! Or is it?
On the cross Christ willingly took our sins upon Himself. Upon His death, Joseph of Arimathea took Jesus’ body and buried Him in a tomb. The tomb was shut, and three days later Jesus walked out. Our sins were nailed to the cross with Christ and died with Him. When Jesus walked out of the tomb, He did not walk out carrying our sins with him; He left our sins back in the tomb, dead. Though we still struggle with sin on this side of the eschaton, we are no longer slaves to sin, though this does not mean we have excuse to live in sin. We are baptized into the death of Christ and are made alive in Him, for He has died for all:
What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? We were buried, therefore, with Him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with Him in a death like His, we shall certainly be united with Him in a resurrection like His. We know our old self was crucified with Him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe we will also live with Him. We know Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over Him. For the death He died He died to sin, once for all, but the life He lives He lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. (Romans 6:1-11)
Something real happens in Baptism. God does something amazing to us when we are baptized. According to Paul, in Baptism sin is drowned, and we become something new in Christ. We are no longer dead in sin, but made alive in Christ! Christ is risen, and because He is risen we will experience a resurrection like His. This Baptism is the promise and comfort we can look back to every day as assurance that we are saved. Nothing is more certain than the promise of God, who has promised us life in Baptism.
There is, therefore, now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the Law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. (Romans 8:1-4)
Now that we are in Christ, there is no condemnation. Even when we fail and do evil deeds, we can look back to our Baptism and remember God has marked us in Christ, who then calls us to repentance to forsake our sins. Just as God marked His Old Testament people with the covenant mark of circumcision to accomplish His promise to come in Christ, so He marks us today with the covenant mark of Baptism that has finally been accomplished in Christ.
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