Life after the Cross

Spring break is over.  Easter is just a recent memory.  Life is back to normal. The anticipation of Easter and relaxed family time has been replaced with busy baseball days, standardized testing stress, and a general lack of sleep.  All the other things spring really means.

Even as I sit here, I feel a stress-induced migraine creeping on me, and I think – is this really all there is?  Don’t get me wrong? I love my life. I love that I have busy baseball days and the memories they bring. I love that I have an active family that keeps me busy.  But active and worn out seem to be two different things.

Well, It is not that bad all the time – I am currently speaking out of exhaustion – but my point is the same.  After Easter, how many of us went back to the way things were before? How many of us no longer thought about the cross and what it meant, daily?  It became, yet again, something we will celebrate next spring.

I know, if I were to ask you, you could go on and on about the power of the cross and what it means to believers.  Yes, I could too. But what I am asking is do we live like that? Does our life after the cross reflect the power of the cross?

In John 21, the resurrection has taken place and Jesus has since revealed himself numerous times to the disciples.  But, it seems they are no different than us.

Peter was a fisherman before his encounter with Jesus, now after Jesus is “gone,” he says to the other disciples, “I am going fishing.” And then they all agree to tag along.

It feels like that sentence says a lot more than he lets on.  It’s more like, “Well that was fun while it lasted. I am really going to miss Jesus, but I guess we’ll just go back to the way things were before.”   And then the other disciple just nod their heads in agreement.

Kind of like we treat Easter.  Well, that was a busy but fun weekend.  So glad the weather was nice. Hope we get to do it again next year.  

Now, I am not knocking all the Easter festivities and family activities.  They are some of my favorites. What I am knocking is how we tend to treat the cross after the fact – and I am guilty too.  

After relaying the story of Jesus visiting with Thomas and just before Jesus interrupts Peter’s fishing trip, John tells us the reason he wrote this book.  In verse 31 of chapter 20 he say, “…so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.”

Because Jesus died on the cross and was resurrected, we have life.  We have the power of the resurrection living in us (now humming the Power in the Blood).  But, most of us don’t live like it.

After celebrating Easter and the Cross and the Resurrection and really focusing on that for a while, we go right back to the way things were.  We are like Peter who just heads off fishing again.

So how should we treat life after the cross?  How should we be living on a daily basis so that not only can we feel it but the rest of the world can recognize that we have the power of the resurrection flowing through us. 

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We can learn three things from this portion of scripture.

First, Believe.

It really is that simple. John said we would have life in Jesus’s name – if we just believed!  We have to make up our mind that we are different. We have a super power living in us and we have to have faith in that fact.  

So much of our life is just a mental game.  However we perceive the situation is what will come to reality.  If I focus on my ailments, my exhaustion, my complaints, well, they just grow and grow and eventually become who I am.  

But if I focus on Jesus and the power He has, if I focus on the fact that His power is in me, if I believe that and then act on it… well, guess what? That becomes who I am.  Just by believing. Just by focusing my mental energy on Jesus and His power, I get to live a new way.

Because of the cross, I don’t have to live like the world.  We look at Peter and wonder how He could just go back to his old ways.  Well, hello! I don’t know about you, but I do it daily. I live like the cross never happened.  And I shouldn’t.

All I have to do is focus my mental game and believe!

Then, I need to listen to the spirit.  

When Peter and the other disciples were nearly through fishing for the night, Jesus, who they didn’t recognize at the moment, instructed them to throw their nets on the right side of the boat.  And they listened and there were so many fish in the net, they could not haul it into the boat. It was then that they began to realize who Jesus was.

After listening to Jesus, they realized who He was – based on the results they got.

In our lives, as believers, we should already recognize Jesus and His spirit living inside of us.  Now, all we have to do is listen.

When it comes to decisions in life, many of us act as if it is so hard to make a choice.  And I admit some choices require deep prayer, but I also know that Jesus usually makes His answer clear.  We are the ones who cloudy it up. We are the ones who pour doubt on it. We are the ones who backpedal if it is not socially accepted.  We are the ones who grow impatient and want to act, if He doesn’t answer on our time table. The spirit gives us clear answers. Many times, we just don’t want to hear them.

If we are going to live the power-filled life that God so designed, the life that Jesus died on the cross so that we could have, we have to be willing to listen.  We have to listen to the spirit.

Look back at the disciples.  They had fished all night and had not caught anything.  Their nets were empty (sound like our lives at times). But, after following Jesus’s instructions, they came up with nets so full they could not haul them into the boat.  Our life can be so full we don’t know what to do, if we will begin to listen to the spirit and live life in the way God so designed.

He did not send Jesus to die on the cross for the mundane existence many of us settle for.

Now, I know listening can be hard, especially if you don’t like what the spirit is saying, but this next one is probably the most challenging.  But it will also deliver the biggest reward.

Finally, in order to live a life filled with the resurrections power, we have to feed the sheep.

Jesus and the disciples feasted on a breakfast of fish and when it was finished, Jesus began to question Peter.  He asked Peter, “do you love me?” Well, I know this had to hit Peter right to the core and maybe he even thought that Jesus was about to let him have it.  I am sure in some ways he was waiting for the gut shot. But instead, Jesus just asked him to feed his sheep.

Now I know there are layers and layers of lessons we can take from this portion of scripture, but today I just want to focus on Jesus’s answer.  Feed my sheep.

If we are disciples – followers of Christ – then that is our command as well.  After the crucifixion, Peter had taken his eyes off Jesus and was looking back at himself.  This is why he was now fishing, instead of doing the Lord’s work.

The same thing happens to us.  When we look at ourselves, we are not looking a Christ and Christ cannot show us the sheep that need to be fed.  We fail to see all the people around us that need ministering to.

As long as our lives are centered on us, we will never live the powerful, love-filled life that God designed through the cross.  The cross itself was about sacrificing for others, so why do we think we will find true joy any other way?

Feeding the sheep is hard.  It is hard to minister to others in our busy lives, but if we go back to the previous point and we listen to the spirit, He will tell us exactly what to do.  He will reveal to us who needs ministering to and what needs to be done – again we are normally the ones to complicate things.

I know life is busy and hard and many times we feel like we are drowning.  You may even be thinking there is no way you can even get past the believe portion of this message because of the current state of your life.  

Well, you are wrong.  Because if you really believe, then you will want to listen and Christ will guide you from there.  

We all get lost in the busyness of life and forget that our lives should be different – because of the cross.  As believers, we need to allow the resurrection power to change our lives daily, not just when the dogwoods are blooming.

We need to take full advantage of the sacrifice that Jesus made.  It was about more than salvation. It was about a new way of life.  And He shows us and directs us into that new way of life. We just have to be willing to believe him, listen to him, and then feed his sheep.

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