“For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.” (Jn. 10:17-18)
There are various ways that the Scriptures describe Jesus death and resurrection. In some places Jesus is betrayed and handed over, and the Spirit raised Him from the dead. But here, Jesus says plainly that the thing that God the Father really loves is the fact that Jesus is the Lord of His life. He has the authority to lay it down and take it back up again because that’s the mission His Father has given Him.
But the same Spirit that filled Jesus with this authority, the same Spirit that assured Jesus of this mission has been given to every believer. When Jesus was baptized the Spirit came upon Jesus and God the Father declared His love. It was as if the very moment the Spirit came upon Jesus, He was granted that very authority to lay His life down and take it back up at will, and God the Father burst out, “I love that about you, Son, You are my beloved Son, in whom I’m well pleased.” That’s God’s favorite thing about Jesus. Easter is the mission of the Son, and that’s what the Father loves about Him.
But that same Spirit has been given to every believer, and at every Christian baptism the same Spirit hovers over the waters of that new creation. And God the Father still announces that same joy over every son who is incorporated into His Beloved Son. God gets excited every time because the Spirit promises to do Easter every time.
But that means that every believer has been granted the same authority given to Jesus, the authority to lay his life down and take it back up again. In fact that is even every Christian’s mission.
We do this every day of our lives. We confess sin and ask for forgiveness, laying our lives down and then taking them back up again in reconciliation. We give up our own rights and serve others in humility, laying our lives down, and taking them back up again in the joy of the Spirit. We endure hardship and suffering, gladly laying our lives down, and take them back up again in faith looking to Jesus. And ultimately we live like this way so that we can die this way.
When we draw our last breath in these human bodies, our last thought should be something like: watch this. Because we have been given the authority to lay our lives down and to take them back up again.
So Jacob and Bethany, teach your son what it means that he is a Beloved Son in the Beloved Son. Teach him that this means he has been promised the Spirit of holiness who equips him with the authority to lay His life down and take it back up again, throughout His life and even when this life prepares to burst out into the next one.