In 1904, under the authorization of President Theodore Roosevelt, workers removed 3.5 billion cubic feet of earth, including eight miles of mountains, to create the Panama Canal which connects the Atlantic Ocean with the Pacific Ocean. How did they do it? Dynamite – precisely 17 million pounds of dynamite!
In Ephesians 1 Paul lays out this super intense prayer. There are some things he desperately wants the readers to know and access for their daily lives. The most striking thing he wanted the readers to understand was that the same power that raised Jesus from the dead lives in those of us who believe. (Ephesians 1:19-20) The Greek word for “power” is “dunamis” where we get our English word, “dynamite”. The same power used to literally move mountains resides in us.
That is quite a remarkable statement that raises at least two obvious questions. One, how do we tap into this power? Second, why didn’t Jesus raise himself from the dead? What I have recently discovered is that the answer to the second question provides the answer to the first question.
It makes complete sense that Jesus as the second person of the Trinity, fully equal to the Father and the Holy Spirit, should be able to pull this feat off on his own. But Romans 1:3-4 tells us Jesus drew on the assistance of the Holy Spirit to accomplish the most important event in human history – the Resurrection.
Why did he do this? I think the answer is found in Philippians 2:6 – “who being in the very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage.” When Jesus entered our world, wrapped in human flesh, he didn’t want to give himself access to the resources he has as God.
What did he do? The next verse tells us – “He emptied himself.” (Philippians 2:7 NASB) What specifically did he empty himself of? Many scholars have probed this question over the centuries to try and reconcile the collision of the divine nature with the human nature in such a way that Jesus remains 100% God and yet 100% human.
One viable answer that falls well within the scope of historical orthodoxy is that Jesus emptied himself or restricted his access to the three “Omni’s”<1>
- Omnipresence – being all places at the same time
- Omniscience – all knowing
- Omnipotence – all powerful
That means when Jesus wanted to go somewhere, he had to walk just like you and me. It means that Jesus didn’t know everything. He grew in wisdom as he grew in stature. (Luke 2:52). It means Jesus didn’t have the power to perform miracles, heal the sick or raise himself from the dead.
Why in the world would Jesus limit his access to these amazing resources? Why did he not want to use these to his own advantage? I think he did this to identify with us and to show us the way to tap into the same power that ultimately raised him from the dead.
Here are the three things Jesus did –
Emptied – Jesus voluntarily put himself in a vulnerable position during his thirty-three years on earth by giving up control over the universe – laying aside his omnipresence, omniscience, and omnipotence.
If we are going to ever tap into the same power that raised Jesus from the dead, it will require us to empty ourselves as well. But for us, instead of giving up control, we must give up the illusion of control. Truth is, we never had control. We need to humble ourselves and admit that we are already in a vulnerable position.
Aligned – Jesus perpetually went to the Father through prayer to discern the Father’s will for his life. Because Jesus didn’t know everything during his time on earth, (like when the kingdom of God would arrive – Mark 13:32), he was reliant on the full and perfect knowledge of the Father to direct his every step.<2>
We too must align our lives to the will of the Father as a prerequisite to tapping into the same power that raised Jesus from the dead. This is where most Christians get tripped up. We want God to unleash his power on our will. It flat out doesn’t work that way. The power of God is reserved for the will of God.
Empowered – When Jesus yielded his life to the will of the Father, the Holy Spirit, which descended upon him at his baptism and remained with him, goes to work. The Spirit has unlimited power to move mountains, turn water into wine, heal the sick or raise people from the dead.
The very same power is in us who believe. After we decide to align our life to the will of the Father, all that we need to do is yield to the presence and power of the Holy Spirit that descended on us at our conversion and remains with us. Success in the Christian life is not about “trying harder” but rather in “yielding harder” to the Spirit within. When we have that kind of faith, we discover that nothing is impossible with God. (Luke 18:27)
If you and I will empty ourselves of the illusion of control, align our lives to the will of the Father and yield the right of way to the Spirit within us, we will have the dunamis of God detonated within us to accomplish amazing things – including our own resurrection from the dead when Jesus returns.
<1> Roger E. Olson, The Mosaic of Christian Belief: Twenty Centuries of Unity & Diversity, (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press) pg. 240
<2> List of passages from John
In His Mighty Strength, popular pastor and author Randy Frazee explores Jesus’ time on earth to uncover the amazing source of his strength. Jesus continually sought direction from the Father and found the power to live the Father’s will through the Holy Spirit. He said yes to God every day of his earthly life—and we can too.