He is Risen Indeed!

Max Lucado, in his book, “Six Hours One Friday,” tells the story of a missionary in Brazil who discovered a tribe of Indians in a remote part of the jungle. They lived near a large river. The tribe needed medical attention. A contagious disease was threatening to wipe out the population. People were dying daily. A hospital was not too terribly far away across the river, but the Indians would not c ross it because they believed the river was inhabited by evil spirits. And to enter its water would mean certain death. (Kind of like what we are experiencing today)
The missionary explained how he had crossed the river and was unharmed. But they were not impressed. He then took them to the bank and placed his hand in the water. They still wouldn’t go in. He walked into the water up to his waist and splashed water on his face. It didn’t matter. They were still afraid to enter the river. Finally, he dove into the river, swam beneath the surface until he emerged on the other side. He raised a triumphant fist into the air. He had entered the water and escaped. It was then that the Indians broke into a cheer and followed him across.
That’s what Jesus did for each of us in his death and resurrection. He entered the river of death and came out on the other side so that we might no longer fear death, but find eternal life in Him.
1 John 1 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. 2 The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. 3 We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. 4 We write this to make our joy complete.
5 This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. 6 If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. 8 If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us.
There was a family who had just lost a 40-year-old son and husband. At the funeral home the man was not dressed in a typical suit, but a pair of bib overhauls and a dirty ball cap. He had died of a heart attack, but in the pocket of his overhauls was a pack of Camels cigarettes, and in his hand was a can of Mountain Dew. The family explained that these were his loves. He smoked three packs of camels a day and drank a half case of Mountain Dew. That was about all they could tell the Pastor about his life, and they wanted the service to be brief without anything religious. At the end of the brief service the funeral director pulled the pastor aside and said, “Now, the family has requested that when you are through speaking that, instead of the usual hymns at the end of the service, we play ‘Wipe Out’” (a rock and roll song from the 60’s). Actually, it seems quite appropriate.
There are companies that specialize in customized funerals like “Just for you”. On line, I found you can get an “art casket” for those who want to be caught dead in something unique. Golfers can choose the “Fairway to Heaven” or “Gone fishin” models. You can choose a beach scene or a view of the New York skyline. They even have a model which says in bold red letters: “Return to Sender.” It is all about having a personalized funeral which makes a “final statement.”
This is not too different from many centuries ago in Egypt. The pyramids were elaborate tombs which made a final statement about the person inside. The walls were covered with art and writing, telling of the accomplishments of the person. Personal items surrounded the mummified remains, and valuable articles of gold were stored in the tombs. It all told the story about the person.
The tomb of Jesus also told a story. But it was not what was inside his tomb that told the story, it was what was NOT in his tomb. There was nothing there. The tomb is empty and that tells it all. The bones of the Buddha are on display. The tombs of world leaders are full of the remains of death. But the tomb of Jesus is empty because he is not there. He has risen, just as he said. God appeared in the little town of Bethlehem. He lived and taught and loved, and they killed him. Bleeding, he hung on the cross. But through it all he thought of his mother, his disciples, and he thought of you. As He thought of you, your sins were washed away as he said, “Neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more” (John 8:11). And then it happened. He gave up his spirit and died. After he hung there for a time they took him down and put him into a borrowed tomb. Friday passed. Saturday passed. And when Sunday morning came, all that was found was an empty tomb. The stone was rolled away. But it was not rolled away to let Jesus out. It was rolled away so all could see what God had done. God had to show them something that would change them forever and tell them something that would change the world forever.
What the resurrection of Jesus was saying to the people of the world was that life is eternal and we were meant to live forever in a glorified existence that is beyond anything we could imagine. Jesus came to the world and offered us heaven. He came in a human body and rose as a spiritual body. Jesus said to his disciples: “Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live” (John 14:19).
In college, I memorized and have never forgotten a few words from Shakespeare’s Macbeth. Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player,
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.
Shakespeare expressed how some folks think of life. But it is a lie. Our lives are not lived merely strutting across the stage of life. We will live eternally. Our lives have meaning and purpose. God has a plan for our lives and calls us to live out that plan. Our lives mean something. We will not be “wiped out”; we will be raised up!
They say that when Winston Churchill planned his funeral to take place in Saint Paul’s Cathedral, he wanted to have the great hymns of the church and the elegant Anglican liturgy for the service. But one of his requests was very untraditional. He asked that a bugler be positioned high in the dome of Saint Paul’s, and after the benediction the sound of “Taps,” be played, which is the universal trumpet call indicating that day is over. But then he planned a twist. As soon as “Taps” was finished, another bugler, placed on the other side of the great dome, played “Reveille” — “It’s time to get up. The great message of Easter is that at the end of history, the last note will not be “Taps,” it will be “Reveille.” God will say, as the trumpets sound, “It’s time to get up.” The Bible says in 1 Corinthians 15: 51 Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— 52 in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. 53 For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. 54 When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.” 55 “Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?” 56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 1. Christ the Lord is ris’n today, Alleluia! Sons of men and angels say, Alleluia! Raise your joys and triumphs high, Alleluia! Sing, ye heav’ns, and earth reply, Alleluia! 2. Love’s redeeming work is done, Alleluia! Fought the fight, the vict’ry won, Alleluia! Jesus’ agony is o’er, Alleluia! Darkness veils the earth no more, Alleluia! 3. Lives again our glorious King, Alleluia! Where, O death, is now thy sting? Alleluia! Once he died our souls to save, Alleluia! Where thy victory, O grave? Alleluia! Text: Charles Wesley, 1707–1788 Music: Anon., Lyra Davidica, 1708


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