|Messiah Lutheran Church||6201
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Chicago IL 60634
Christ is risen! He is risen indeed!" This traditional Easter greeting goes back to the Lord's disciples who after witnessing the Resurrected Christ confessed that Jesus had risen from the grave just as He said He would.
But a guest at one of my former churches in Los Angeles (Grace Lutheran) wasn't quite familiar with this traditional Easter greeting. So, when I opened up our Easter Sunday worship service one year by saying, "Christ is Risen!" instead of responding, "'Christ is Risen Indeed! Alleluia, she shouted out for all to hear, "He sure has!"
But the hope of the resurrection is not something to be shouted about only on Easter
Sunday. The Resurrection of Jesus is proof positive that His sacrifice for our sins on Good Friday was acceptable to our Heavenly Father. As a result, we can be forgiven of all our sins, experience a personal relationship with a Holy God, and if we remain faithful unto death,
we will inherit the indescribable riches of heaven together with all the faithful Saints.
The hope of the resurrection totally changes our whole outlook on life as we begin to see things through the lenses of eternity. As 1 Corinthians 15: 17 tells us, "... if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins".
Thank God that after Jesus suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried, He descended into hell and on the third day rose again from the dead! Thus, making it possible for us not only to be heirs of salvation and eternal life in heaven.
But sometimes living in this world with all its worries and cares can cause us to lose our eternal perspective. And so rather than responding to the news that "Christ is Risen", instead of saying, He is Risen indeed!" we can find ourselves responding by saying, "So, what?°
I once thought that it would be really a great witness to others: if being a Christian meant you never had to suffer again (e.g. you never got sick, had the perfect marriage and family life, were always successful, were better looking and smarter than everyone else, etc.). As a result, people would naturally want to become a Christian in order to enjoy such a blessed and care-free life.
However, Jesus was very clear, being a Christian doesn't mean we will not experience difficult times on this earth. As He once said in John 16.33, In this world you will have: trouble". Similarly, in Matthew 10:24-25 he said, "A student is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. It is enough for the student to be like his teacher, and the servant like his master. If the head of the house has been called Beelzebub, how much more the members of his household!" And elsewhere he emphasized that we if we want to be one: of His followers, we must deny ourselves and take up our cross daily and follow Him ( cf Matthew 10:38; Mark 8:34; Luke 9:23; and Luke 14:27).
And here's what Ive discovered over my thirty plus years of pastoral ministry: Some of the best examples of the genuineness of the Christian faith can be found not when things are going "Hunky Dory"/ "Okey Dokey" in people's lives, but instead, when they find themselves experiencing earthly sorrows and sufferings.
For in the midst of their sorrows and sufferings, they are able to demonstrate to others the sure and certain hope they have been given in the Resurrection of their Lord and that they have an inheritance in heaven to look forward to when this brief life is over, making them standout from those who do not have this hope.
The hope of the resurrection totally transforms how we respond to life's challenges, use our time, spend our money, who we hang out with, how we think, how we live, as well as how we respond to good times, bad times and in between times.
In contrast, 1 Corinthians 15:32 describes how without the hope of the resurrection, we might as well adopt the epicurean philosophy, Let us eat and drink for tomorrow we die". But because we as God's forgiven people have been given the sure and certain hope of the Resurrection of our Lord, we can face whatever happens in this life, knowing we have an Eternal reward waiting for us in heaven.
As Jesus tells us in John 14:1-3, "Do not let your hearts be troubled. You beloved in God, believe also in me. My Father's house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am." Members and Friends of Messiah, if you've been going through a difficult time of late, have lost the joy of your salvation, and wondering why life isn't working out the way you had expected, I invite you look to Jesus as the author and perfecter of your faith and to the hope of the resurrection!
Consider just how brief this life really is compared to eternity. As Moses wrote in Psalm 90:10-11, "The length of our days is seventy years -or eighty, if we have the strength; yet their span is but trouble and sorrow, for they quickly pass, and we fly away."
For one day when you're in heaven, God will wipe away all your tears, and it will be worth it all when you see Jesus!
As 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 says, Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So, we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal."
And so, Jesus reminds us in Matthew 6:19-21, Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."
May the joy, peace and hope of the Resurrection of our Lord he with you now and forever!
For Christ is Risen! He sure Has!
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