The Word on the Week

He has Risen

I am afraid the “Risen People” all but extinguished witness to the “Risen Saviour” over the Easter weekend. At least that was true of the city centre churches which were inaccessible but it afforded us the joy of meeting with our friends in the suburbs.
Of course the staging of the rising at Easter 1916 with its inevitable shedding of blood and overtones of martyrdom stoked the flame of latent nationalism to a religious intensity in some minds. It happened in 1916 and, but for the proceedings being carefully choreographed in 2016, it could have happened again.
Whilst commemorating Easter is not of fundamental importance – Jesus rose on the first day (Sunday) of the week so his rising is tacitly remembered weekly – the very regularity produces a familiarity which dulls its impact. So it is left to Easter to refresh believer’s understanding of the amazing fact that he who was dead is now alive.

The triumphant shout “Tetelestai” (meaning finished, paid in full, accomplished) rang out from the cross indicating the removal of the sin barrier (Isaiah Chapter 59 verse 2) once for all by the atoning blood of the Lamb of God (St John Chapter 19 verses 28 & 30 and chapter 1 verse 29).
Then came the jarring effect of the empty tomb “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb and we don’t know where they have put him” St John Chapter 20 verse 2). A typical reaction, fearing the worst and forgetting the promise “Destroy this temple and I will raise it again in 3 days” referring to his body then he when on to teach that believer’s bodies would be the new home of the Holy Spirit (St John Chapter 2 verse 19-22 and 14 verse 17).

It took the resurrection appearances of Jesus to his disciples to allay their doubts and fears (St John Chapter 20 verses 19-29 and Chapter 21). It is the same today in many parts of the world where there is no open proclamation of the Good News. Doubts are turned to belief by dreams or visions of Jesus appearing to people who were struggling with their faith. China is a good example. For many years it excluded Missionaries and Bibles but the impact of the risen Jesus has produced a thriving church today.
Such was the impact of the empty tomb on St Paul that in his preaching at Athens his hearers thought he was referring to two gods – Jesus and the Resurrection (Acts 17 verse 18). Later he staked the veracity of the Christian faith on the fact of Christ’s rising from the dead (1 Corinthians chapter 15 verses 12-19).
Something of this is caught in Robert Lowry’s hymn: –
Death cannot keep its prey
Jesus, my Saviour!
He tore the bars away
Jesus, my Lord!

The glorious reality is that Christ has risen from the dead. The tomb is empty. The body is gone. The resurrection body has come. Christ is alive – hallelujah!
No monuments exist to a dead Christ. No pilgrimages to his grave. He is the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last. He existed before all things and lives after the power of an endless life (Revelation Chapter 22 verse 13).

He has spoken his Word was recorded in the Bible and now his Word continues to speak to us. In the words of Keith and Kristyn Getty’s song: –
This voice that spans the years
Speaking life, stirring hope, bring peace to us
Will sound till he appears
For he lives Christ has risen from the dead.