We had a great worship service yesterday celebrating our Lord’s resurrection. Church was full. We sang great hymns, heard a fine message, gathered around the altar to share the Holy Sacrament, and declared again He is Risen! He is Risen Indeed! But today Monday. We have a week before us of routine work, some pleasant tasks, some not so pleasant. The week may contain some illness, or a funeral service, as ours did last week. So as great as our service was yesterday, we are back in the midst of life today. But that is just the point of all that yesterday’s service proclaimed. Our Lord knows who we are and all we face in day to day life in a broken world. God sent His only begotten Son into this world to bring us life, not just for one special day but for every day. “I have come”, Jesus said, “that you may have life, and have it to the full.”(John 10:10) In the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the grave the power of sin, death, and the devil have been broken. Through faith in His name we have life. Today is Monday. The Lord is Risen! He is Risen Indeed!
We had a great worship service yesterday. There were shouts of “He is Risen! He is Risen indeed! Hallelujah!” Much praise and great music to God’s glory. But today is Monday. For most the work week begins again. Back to the routine, facing all of the trials and challenges that are a part of it. That is just the point of all of yesterday’s shouting. Jesus is alive! He is alive on Monday as He was on Sunday. Our shouting doesn’t bring Him to life on one day of the year. It proclaims the truth of the incarnation. The living God is with us. In the events we celebrated during Holy Week and Easter we proclaimed the truth that the Living God has redeemed us from the power of sin giving us a new life and hope. Emmanuel, God with us, is not a truth that can be confined to one day a year, but is for all of our Mondays and the days to follow. That is what yesterday was all about. We give our Living God praise yesterday, today, and forever. Jesus is alive!
Yesterday we began our worship service with the shout, “Jesus is Alive! Hallelujah!” And then immediately began with our first hymn Jesus Christ is Risen Today. It is always a joyous opening to our Easter worship, but what does it mean? What does it mean to say that the Lord Jesus Christ is alive? I can’t see Him today. I can’t put my finger into the nail print in His hand as He invited Thomas to do. Even so, because that grave in Jerusalem was opened, of which there is ample historical evidence; because there were numerous eye witness account of meeting Jesus after His resurrection; and because all of the Apostles, except for John, died a martyrs death testifying to the truth of the resurrection, the fact of Jesus being alive is undeniable. Further, it testifies to the truth that there is a very real realm of life beyond what we see with our eyes and apprehend with our five senses. Jesus Christ is alive. Through faith in Him we are even now a part of that real realm of life called God’s Kingdom. This is not a hope only for our time of death, but a truth in which we daily walk. Jesus Christ is alive! Hallelujah!
When the Apostle Paul was on trial because of his preaching, in his defense he spoke of Christ’s suffering, death and resurrection. The suffering and death are one thing, but when he got to the part about the resurrection it brought doubts and scoffing. The King’s adviser shouted “you are out of your mind, Paul. Your great learning is driving you insane.” (Acts 16:24) We can justify the suffering and death in a lot of different ways…. wrong place at the wrong time, got the authorities up set, etc. But when you add the fact that God raised Him from the dead, you have a whole different picture. You have a God event that cannot be dismissed. Almighty God took a specific action in this person, Jesus Christ, in the midst of human history. This is certainly unusual, but it is not insane. The resurrection of Jesus Christ is a truth that has been proven from a number of different angles. For the Christian it is a truth that brings great joy and hope. For the non-christian it is a truth that requires the closest examination. But it is a truth that requires a response.
A panel of scientist recently discussed the topic, “What happens to the soul after death”. It was aired on the Science channel. Their responses ranged from – a person simply ceases to exist, to an examination of near death experiences. They were all total speculation, and came to no conclusion. Well, of course they couldn’t. They were trying to discuss scientifically an area where science has nothing to say. It is a question, however, for which all people desire an answer, and most faiths seek to give. There is one historical event that speaks definitively to the question. That is the resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is an event that has stood the test of historical analysis. Jesus passed through death into life, and has over come death for all time. Further, Paul assures us that “The one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you in his presence. “(II Corinthians 4:14) Science can speculate all it wants about what happens to the soul after death, but our faith rests on the truth that because Jesus lives, we shall live also.
The Apostle Paul was on trial because of his preaching. In his defense he spoke of the suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The suffering and death are one thing, but when he got to the part about the resurrection it brought doubts and scoffing. The King’s advisor shouted “you are out of your mind, Paul. Your great learning is driving you insane.”(Acts 16:24) We can justify the suffering and death in a lot of different ways. Jesus was in the wrong place at the wrong time. He got the Jewish authorities up set, etc. But when you add the fact that God raised Him from the dead, you have a whole different picture. You have a God event that cannot be dismissed. Almighty God took a specific action in this person, Jesus Christ, in the midst of human history. This is certainly unusual, but it is not insane. This is a truth that all must face, and ask “Why?” The answer to that question impacts our lives to the very depth.
We had wonderful celebrations at church yesterday. Attendance was high. Several additional hymns and special music gave praise to our Lord. The spoken word told again of the Easter Sunday event, and sharing the Holy Eucharist was the high point of the service. All of it together proclaimed the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. I began the service with the shout, “Jesus Christ is alive! Hallelujah!” However, with all of this declaration, and beauty in song and spoken word, it is not really yesterday that matters. This is Monday, a holiday for many, but the beginning of a normal week. Back to the routine of life. It is today, and tomorrow, and the next in which the proclamation “Jesus is alive!” really matters. It is the risen Lord Jesus who said, “I am with you to the close of the age,” and the declaration “I will never leave or forsake you.” For us, Easter is not one day, but every day. We begin each morning with the shout, “Jesus Christ is alive!” He is the true strength and joy of life.
Another great archeological discovery in Jerusalem has hit the news this morning. An inscription on a tomb is hailed as the earliest record of Jesus’ resurrection. While such things are interesting and helpful, they really are unnecessary for our faith. Our catechism says that it is the Holy Spirit, God Himself, the third person of the holy Trinity, who calls us to faith, gathers us together as a body of believers, teaches us the truth of God’s word, and works in our hearts to form Christ’s nature. We already have the truth of eye witnesses to Jesus’ resurrection in the Gospel accounts. And we have the witness of the change in life that only God can bring about. It is this witness that has allowed believers to withstand persecution and martyrdom throughout 20 centuries. Archeology digs to unearth foundations long buried, but our faith rests on a foundation that has been set in place by God.