HE IS RISEN!
Haven’t forgotten that, have you? Just because we celebrated Easter and the Easter message of resurrection even though virtual Sunday, April 4, I just can’t let you and me ever forget that. It’s not just April 4, it’s every day of 12 MONTHS.
HE is the only man who ever triumphed over death and the grave, none before Him and none since. THE ONLY ONE! That resurrection, that bodily resurrection, that ascension, that VERIFIED – WITNESSED resurrection and ascension is crucial, pivotal, revolutionary, life changing, essential and indispensable to the belief of every Christian. Morning, noon and night, every day of all 365, the living, resurrected Christ LIVES within the hearts of every Christian believer. And every believer, the Christ has promised, will live with Him now, in this life, and in the life WITH HIM to come. Incredible, is it not?
Wonderful, glorious, jubilant, to every believer. But to the natural man:
Absolute and altogether foolishness. It is absolutely ridiculous, says a natural man, an atheist or agnostic, that a mere human being, a carpenter from Nazareth no less, who came from dust and shall return to dust as the scriptures say should rise from the dead. It is just simply not possible. And of course, the myth of the resurrection and the myth of the virgin birth and even for many the myth of the crucifixion all are nothing more than fairytales or as the scriptures say IDLE tales. One can readily see how a natural man, one not drawn by THE HOLY SPIRIT, with eyes closed and ears blocked would scoff, mock and ridicule the EASTER story. If you want, as physicist and astronomer Steven Hawkins would say to believe in a myth of fairytale, that is your right. But the world of science, says Hawkins, astronomy and the so called reason and rationality of the mind dismiss a resurrection possibility out of hand. It didn’t happen, says Hawkins. IT CAN’T HAPPEN!
And, to that, the Apostle Paul says if in fact the resurrection did not happen, then:
YOUR FAITH IS IN VAIN.
Worthless. No better than any other belief system, if even that. If Christ be not risen, any professing believer is not only deceived but becomes him or herself a DECEIVER. Such a believer testifies to a lie, perhaps the biggest lie in all of human history and consequently, becomes a conspirator in the spread of evil and duplicity. So that, not only is the believer’s faith in vain, but the guilt of the false belief of others lies upon him or her as well. When you or I profess to be Christian, we must therefore champion the resurrection with all of our heart, soul and mind. There can be no doubt. NONE!
Perhaps that is why the nonbeliever dislikes, even hates Christianity and as a consequence the Christians who follow it. Nonbelievers hate the concept of sin. They see no need for forgiveness. They deeply resent the demands of Christianity and the Christ who boldly proclaims:
NO MAN OR WOMAN COMES TO THE FATHER BUT BY ME!
Nonbelievers hate that demand, that exclusivity. For it rules out everything else, every other form of belief, in fact every other religion. The crucifixion at Golgotha was merely the death of one man, perhaps even justified. The man who died was a revolutionary, a seditionist, constantly conspiring to get THE PEOPLE to resist and rebel against Rome, the political system, Herod and Pilot on the one hand and the religious authorities, the Pharisees and Sadducees on the other. And he even admitted he came to stir up trouble, to turn one family member against another. He called Herod the Tetrarch of Rome a FOX, cunning, deceiving and lying. The religious establishment despised him because he referred to them over and again as nothing more than hypocrites, or whited sepulchers, empty inside. If any mere man deserved to die, and die in an excruciating way, it was this mirror man Jesus of Nazareth. It was with HIM then as it is now love or hate. You embraced him, believed in him, gave him your all. Or you despised, even hated him nothing more than a rebel or rabble rouser, deluded, even perhaps insane a man in no way to be taken seriously. WITH OR AGAINST. And, written off by Him who again boldly even arrogantly stated:
HE THAT IS NOT WITH ME IS AGAINST ME.
The world, the secularists, the natural men and women accommodate Christianity one weekend, three days each year. From Good Friday through resurrection Sunday, those who believe in fairytales are allowed their celebration. But then comes Monday and it is back to business as usual, criticizing Christianity, attempting at every hand to get Christians, Christian beliefs and Christianity out of the public square, out of the marketplace, confined if at all possible to the four walls of a church. They are determined, these rabid, progressive secularists to curtail or eliminate Christian witness, any form of evangelism for they the enemy have determined that all Christian speech is:
They are determined to destroy, eliminate any form of testimony, any message which states:
CHRIST IS RISEN
Even as they scoff at the message:
UP FROM THE GRAVE HE AROSE
WITH THE MIGHTY CHILD O’ER HIS FOES
Wherever he was buried, there he remains they say. From the time he was laid in a tomb, everything else, EVERYTHING is nothing more than myth, fairytale, idle tale WHY!
But, natural man, like it or not, he did in fact rise again. HE WAS SEEN first by the women Mary Magdalene, Mary the Mother of James and Salome, and Joanna, and other women. They first saw the empty tomb as they brought spices, the announcement of the resurrection by the angel and these women were the very first EVANGELISTS. They were the first to go and tell. They told Peter, and the disciples, 11 of them and others that at the tomb:
HE IS NOT THERE!
HE IS RISEN!
He was there, back for some 40 days before an ascension. He fellowshipped with his disciples and with others. He was there in the flesh for he was hungry and thirsty. He ate and drank and he showed them his nail pierced body and the wounded side where he was pierced. He returned as a man alive and ascended in glory as the eternal Christ. For Christian believers, it is true, all of it. It is fact. It is the foundation of belief. He was alive in the flesh before and after the crucifixion and now lives eternally and forever with his saints to reign. So, the Christian joyfully proclaims Easter Sunday and every other day:
We the believers celebrated the Easter weekend, mourning at the remembrance of the crucifixion on Good Friday April 2 but joyfully and jubilantly celebrated HIS Resurrection on Easter Sunday, April 4. That resurrection message was heard that day the world over. The world made time, even priority at least to recognize that incredible message. But now, only mere days later, it is business as usual. Perhaps even we who believe become gradually less open, less aggressive in our testimony, perhaps even unwilling to STAND for what we believe, in Him. Perhaps, gradually, we become more defensive, even withdrawn, unwilling to testify and confront. Perhaps the message of those three potent days becomes a matter of memory, fading, the power of it all dissipating, the courage to fight the fight of faith waning.
So, just a few days after the Easter celebration, it is well for us to celebrate again, and again and again, and every day the fact, the most supreme fact in all of human history that:
HE IS RISEN.
That, as the old hymn says, Christ the Lord is risen today, and every day. Hallelujah! Let us with all our hearts proclaim that message and live that message. It is the greatest fact in human history!
So, from the virgin birth, to a powerful human life symbolist, to the crucifixion offering forgiveness for all mankind through the shed blood, to the resurrection, believe it, proclaim it, and live it every day of the year.
And one more thing. There is yet to come the rapture. This, the crucified and resurrected Christ will return again for his church, for us. Perhaps that day is near and we should be ready. The rapture is yet another fairytale, so says the natural man. But for Christians, it is the ultimate event, the culmination of everything. If you are Christian, if you believe, then the Holy Spirit bears witness, fortifies your belief, encourages you and strengthens you and makes certain that you live joyfully in the faith, hope and love of the Christian journey. Easter was celebrated days ago. But Easter is not a day, it is a way of life. Celebrate morning, noon and night:
HE IS RISEN
CHRIST THE LORD IS RISEN TODAY AND EVERY DAY!