THE RISEN CHRIST
When I was just a little kid, there was a popular song they used to play on the radio a lot, called “Three Little Words”. I haven’t heard it many years, but I do recall that we didn’t find out what the “three little words” were until the very, very end of the song.
The “Three Little Words” of the song were “I love you”, and those are definitely three great words. But for a Christian, the three most beautiful words are: Christ is risen. And actually, if you stop to think about it, there is a lot of similarity between “I love you” and “Christ is risen”. Because Christ Jesus loves us so much that he died for us and then rose from the dead in order to obtain eternal life in paradise for all of us. Now that’s real love.
For Christians, the resurrection of Jesus is the most important event in the history of the world, because it gives us an unending amount of hope, even when things might appear darkest.
Jesus walked his talk. In fact, he probably made the toughest walk ever made, for our sakes…carrying a heavy cross all the way. He died for us in a most terrible way. But then, three days later came the miracle of his resurrection. Three women went to the tomb, and here is what they found, as recorded in the book of Mark: (Mark 16:1-7)
Very early on Sunday morning, at sunrise, they went to the tomb. On they way they said to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?” (It was a very large stone). Then they looked up and saw that the stone had already been rolled back. So they entered the tomb, where they saw a young many sitting at the right, wearing a white robe—and they were alarmed. “Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “I know you are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He is not here—he has been raised! Look, here is the place where he was placed. Now go and give this message to his disciples, including Peter: he is going to Galilee ahead of you, you will see him there, just as he told you.”
When the disciples heard the news from the women, they thought it was too good to be true. Only when Jesus actually appeared to the disciples did they really accept the wonderful truth…that he had risen from the dead. The disciple Thomas was especially skeptical, and said he would not believe until he had actually examined the nail holes in Jesus’ hands. When Jesus appeared again to the disciples, Thomas did finally believe, and Jesus told him:
“You believe because you have seen me. Blessed are those who haven’t seen me and believe anyway.”
“Blessed are those who haven’t seen me and believe anyway. That’s us! Even though we weren’t present 2000 years ago when Jesus rose from the grave, we are as blessed as the disciples—maybe even a little more so because we’re doing it entirely on faith! We are very, very fortunate to have such an opportunity to practice our faith.
The Lord is Risen! Those words are every bit as exciting and meaningful as they were 2000 years ago. Our God isn’t some being off in a remote galaxy…rather, he lives in us each minute and is intimately concerned about our well-being. How can that be? I don’t know. But, then I don’t know how a electrical power plant works either, and that doesn’t prevent me from flicking a switch and turning on the lights. God is God and he can do what he wishes, even if it means being in a bazillion places at once and knowing our most private thoughts, hopes and unspoken prayers. He is with us always.
God is not a bottle of aspirin that we pull off the shelf when we have a problem in our lives. He is an ever-present helping Spirit. As Christians, we are a “resurrection people”, which means a people called to new life; called to rise and follow Jesus as the example who leads us to the Father.
Jesus died and rose from the grave exactly as the scriptures had foretold hundreds of years before. Jesus himself predicted his death and resurrection….then it happened…and then he said that we can have eternal life too. Has there every been such a gift?
Jesus said (John 11:25), “I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me will live, even though they die.”
He also said (John 3:16-17): “For God loved the world so much that he gave his only son, so that everyone who believes in him may not die, but have eternal life.”
If Jesus hadn’t risen from the dead, he would be remembered as a wonderful teacher. But by rising from the grave as a man (complete with flesh, blood and even the nail holes—and after suffering pain, terror, depression and every other human emotion—he showed that WE could also overcome death, and promised that we would have eternal life if we only believe in him.
It was Jesus who gained the promise of eternal life for us, and it is to him that we owe our salvation. He has destroyed the sting of death. Jesus walked his talk…and now, we need to do the same thing.
WE NEED TO DO THE RIGHT THINGS FOR THE RIGHT REASONS:
In any situation, there are four possible things we can do:
- The right thing for the right reason: which is a blessing
- The right thing for the wrong reason: which is a shame (my specialty for many years, as I’ll discuss)
- The wrong thing for the right reason: which is an honest mistake
- The wrong thing for the wrong reason: which is a sin
For a number of years, most of the right things I did were for the wrong reasons.
- I went to church most Sundays, but mainly to be seen by others.
- I did volunteer work, but mainly to be noticed.
- I said some prayers each day, but manly out of habit.
- I was honest, but mainly because I was afraid of getting caught.
- I treated people decently, but only if I thought they could help me.
There are all kinds of addictions: alcohol and drugs come immediately to mind. But there are many other kinds as well: addictions to power, or ego or money, to name a few. For all practical purposes, MY god’s name was spelled M-O-N-E-Y, because it came before everything else on my priority list. I spent more time worrying about money than about my family and friends.
For me, the most important words in my life were not “I Love You” or “Christ Has Risen”….but rather “Show Me the Money”.
- When your god is money…your god isn’t much use in time of sickness.
- When your god is money…your god isn’t your friend when others fail you.
- When your god is money, your god can never be big enough.
- When your god is money…your god isn’t a comfort to you in time of loss.
- When your god is money…or power…or revenge…you are totally and completely on your own!
I remember reading a poem a few years ago, called “The Guy In The Glass” about how a person has to please the man in the mirror each day—in other words himself. And that it’s impossible for a person to fool the “Guy in the Glass” the way a person can deceive others. At that time, when I looked in the mirror, I didn’t much like the person I saw—even though others may have thought me to be a great guy.
But then on a warm October day years ago, while driving a car in the middle of nowhere, the Lord showed me a different path. And sure enough, once I started down that path, I actually started to like the guy I saw in the in the mirror.
When your God is The God, you have the most powerful force in the universe on your side. I still make plenty of mistakes, but MY God will always forgive me and encourage me to do better.
Jesus also said (John 5:24) I am telling you the truth: those who hear my words and believe in him who sent me have eternal life. They will not be judged, but have already passed from death to life.
Jesus rose from the grave 2000 years ago, yet we can see the Risen Christ every day, in the faces of each other. You don’t have to look very far.
Jesus revealed what it will be like on judgment day (Matthew 25:31-40): He will put the righteous people at his right and the others on the left. Then the King will say to the people on this right, “Come, you that are blessed by my Father! Come and possess the kingdom which has been prepared for you ever since the creation of the world. I was hungry and you fed me, thirsty and you gave me drink; I was a stranger and you received me in your homes, naked and you clothed me; I was sick and you took care of me, in prison and you visited me. The righteous will then answer him, “When, Lord, did we ever see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you a drink? When did we ever see you a stranger and welcome you in our homes, or naked and clothe you. When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you? The King will reply: “I tell you, whenever you did this for one of the least important of these followers of mine, you did it for me.”
- Christ Is Risen! Jesus wants us to succeed. He wants us to take any bad thing in our lives and Turn It Over” to him.
- Christ Is Risen! And he wants to relieve us of our burdens, if only we will just “Turn It Over”.
- Christ Is Risen! No worry is too big…or too small for Jesus if we will just “Turn It Over”.
- Christ Is Risen! No weakness is beyond the saving grace of Jesus if we will just “Turn it Over”.
- Christ Is Risen! No problem’s too much for Jesus if we will just “Turn It Over”.
- Christ Is Risen! No sin is beyond forgiveness if we will just “Turn It Over”.
- Christ Is Risen! No load is too heavy for Jesus if we will just “Turn It Over”.
- Christ Is Risen! No dream is impossible if we will just “Turn It Over”.
- Christ Is Risen! No bad memory is beyond the healing touch of Jesus if we will just “Turn It Over”.
- Christ Is Risen! No goal is out of reach if we will just “Turn It Over”.
- Christ Is Risen! No worry is unimportant to Jesus if we will just “Turn It Over”.
- Christ is Risen! There is no life so broken that it can’t be put together if we will just …“Turn It Over”.