Luke 24:39 See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me, and see. For a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.”
Life is a race. We can either run it frantically with our “Tyranny of the urgent” t-shirts or we can run it in a totally different way; “Already won.”
There’s this life and there’s the next. Understanding where one ends and the other begins is vital for victory.
The competition in our small community race every year is pretty fierce. Some of them are truly running to win. If you’re like me, you may not compete in races like that because first place chance is pretty slim. And yes, I like to win. Don’t you?
Imagine you’re in a race and one hope has etched this mental picture; your body lunging through and breaking the tape at the finish line. The crowd roars. Flowers are thrown appearing to fall from heaven and the trophy is yours.
You’re running hard for that but half way through the race, stronger, faster competitors begin to pass you by. One. Two. Three. Four. After a handful eclipse you, you quit counting. You’re gasping for breath and it seems the dream is certainly out of reach. You approach a hill and everything in you says, “Quit!” You look up, questioning the purpose of continuing when you notice a group of people running toward you.
“Wrong way!” You’re too out of breath for your voice to reach these crazy people and they continue approaching. You notice some of them are carrying items and as they get closer, you see two holding a long red ribbon and another cradling an object in his arms. Behind these, you notice a great crowd of people following them down the hill. As they come to where you are, the two stretch the ribbon out across the road. You can see the trophy. The crowd awaits just beyond the line with flowers in hand. They’re all watching you with great anticipation and cheering you on, calling your name. As you break through the finish line, the crowd erupts. That thing you dreamed just came true.
The finish line moved to you.
Let’s talk life. Where is the finish line?
Jesus could have demonstrated eternal life by appearing to His disciples in spirit. He could have sat with them and discussed life, death and truth with them as a ghostly apparition instead of in flesh. In spirit form, He could have talked with them about heaven and that He’s going to prepare a place for them confirming eternal life after death. All that would have been very good and would have left you and me with a great assurance in the afterlife. Our theology would then espouse that once we die, we join Jesus. Once we die, it is finished and the next life begins. Once we die, we enter eternity.
But Jesus wasn’t resurrected in spirit. He was resurrected in flesh. Wouldn’t God have been able to more clearly communicate life in the spirit if Jesus had appeared in spirit? What was the point of resurrection in the body? Aren’t these just fleshy tents doomed to fail in a fallen world anyway?
Consider this. Jesus’ crucifixion without a physical resurrection would support that at death, a person can enter eternity. But resurrection in the flesh means eternity can enter the person.
Today people often consider the finish line a physical death, like a ribbon that marks the point between this life and the next. Jesus really messed that theology up. He brought the finish line to you, where you are, right now today.
Jesus didn’t just say, “He who believes in me will live even if he dies.” He finished, “And everyone who believes in Me will never die.”
Two thousand years ago, it was finished. He has brought that finish line to you and me today and eternity is on the other side of it. Cross it. Finish now and live in that “Already won” victory today.