Tuesday, March 05, 2013

The Risen Christ


Humankind has for thousands of years sought some kind of meaning in life. Man has invented all kinds of religions which pacify his curiosity about a divine being and how to please him. And within these religious constructs are a wide variety of sacrifices and personal pain designed to appease or please the unknown divine entity. Some teach a system of self inflicted pain, or fastings that endanger health, while some teach in the west that God needs your money in order to work with you and make you prosperous. It is all a confusing mess but it emanates from a need to hold on to some form of religious spirit.

But in the midst of all the swirling religious notions and beliefs, is one immutable fact that renders all of the spirits of religion as lies and falsehoods. The man called Yeshua, Jesus, died and was resurrected from the dead. That is the event which openly separates Jesus from all other religions or ideas about the Creator. The resurrection of Jesus the Christ is the lynchpin that secures the truth He taught and substantiates everything He claimed about Himself. This is not just another doctrine of the Christian faith. The Christian faith rises or falls based upon the resurrection.

I Cor.15: 12 Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead?
13 But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen:
14 And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain.
15 Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not.
16 For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised:
17 And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins.
18 Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished.
19 If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.

The Apostle Paul presents it with startling clarity. If Jesus did not rise from the dead than our faith is little more than earthly self help. But of course the reverse is also true. If Jesus of Nazareth did indeed rise bodily from the dead, then that erases all doubts and validates not only what He taught, but who He was. And that is the very essence of what those who believe in and follow Jesus are sharing and preaching and loving. When we say that Jesus died on the cross to pay for the sins of mankind and people ask us how do we know, then we only need say “the resurrection”.

Rev.1: 18 I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.

And it was John which heard and recorded these words from the lips of the Risen Christ. He affirms that He was surely dead and has indeed risen from the dead. And you gather everything Jesus said and did, and everything He was and stood for, and wrap it all up in one large package, you would seal the package with a ribbon called the resurrection. You see, the concept of someone really coming back from the dead was so outrageous and so preposterous that if indeed someone really did rise from the dead it would carry with it eternal implications. In the story of the rich man and Lazarus, the rich man winds up in Hades and begs for the Lord to send a messenger to his five brothers so they would not come to the torture he was experiencing. The Lord tells the man that Moses and the prophets had warned them. But the man, knowing that people no longer believed the prophets, told the Lord that if someone would rise from the dead then his brothers would then believe. Listen to the story.

Lk.16: 27 Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father's house:
28 For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment.
29 Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.
30 And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent.
31 And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.

And there it is in prophetic and even parabolic form. Jesus makes mention of His own resurrection and even suggests that when He resurrects that many still will not believe on Him. And indeed history bears that out. A person born of a woman, albeit fathered by God, has walked into the chief enemy about which mankind has feared, and He has walked out of that dungeon. That man, Christ Jesus, has resurrected from the dead. And that event was the capstone to all Jesus had taught and proclaimed.

And in the Book of the Revelation we see the Glorified and Risen Christ. It is most difficult for a human mind to comprehend the truth of that reality to say nothing of the spiritual significance of the resurrection. Why do people take vitamins? Why do they take medicine? Why do they exercise? Who do they go to the doctor? Why do they buckle their seat belts? They do all these things and more in order to prolong their life and avoid death. Death is the enemy. And all men attempt to avoid death for as long as they are able. But Jesus not only conquered death but He offered His eternal victory unto whosoever will.

The resurrection changed everything. And the glorious proof of that resurrection is indeed the Risen Christ Himself. He reigns in a place sometimes called heaven. So ethereal and yet so tangible that Paul could not tell whether he had been there in or out of the body. All heaven is mesmerized by this Divine Monarch.

He is the start, the journey, and the destination. He is everything to all His followers and in Him we live and move and have our being. He is our life and our death and He dwells in heaven and simultaneously in the heart of every believer. He has no equals and no competitors. He is the first among His brethren and He is the vine while His brethren were grafted into Him. He must be the pursuit of every blood bought saint of God. He is the object of all our worship and all the angels of heaven worship Him with us. He is the Creator of time and yet eternal.

To say He is important is to capture Him in human terms which minimize Who He is. He is not just important, He is all in all. He is everything. Do we think the blood washed waves of heavenly saints would consider Him important? They are consumed with Him and being made like Him they actually reflect Him as they worship Him. His dwelling place is beyond words, how much more He Himself? And for all eternity the Seraphim surround the glory of His throne and worship Him with heavenly chants of “Holy, holy, holy…”. And they, the angels, were not redeemed. How do you think we will feel when we set our eyes upon the glorified Savior who purchased our eternity?? We were not angels, we were disgusting rebels who thought of no one but ourselves. We were not content with Eden’s perfection, we had to have the forbidden fruit, and when God the Son came to this desolate place that was permeated with Spiritual death, we murdered Him.

Do not think that any Hollywood producer can actually portray the sufferings of the Lamb, His agonies are a sacred mystery which eclipse human understanding. And when I speak of the love inherent in the crimson cross we must all bow and shake our poor heads in wonder and unworthiness. Why? Why? Me? Why? The glory of the Savior God and His death is that the love that motivated His sacrifice cannot be defined. There was absolutely nothing, I said nothing, lovable about us. So God’s love is absolutely pure of any object impurities and His love was never drawn by anything on earth but it emanated from He who is love. We can never know why until the moment we are changed in His presence and we know then even as we are known. I cannot describe it, but when we see the Risen Lamb of God we will be able to understand more deeply that it is all of Him and none of us.

Jesus is neither renaissance nor industrial nor modern nor post modern, and all attempts to present Him in those terms tarnish the revelation He has so graciously given to us. To bring Him into this world and capture Him in our man made descriptions obscure His glory and run the ever increasing risk of creating someone else than the true Risen Christ. He is the deepest of all mysteries and at the same time the divine simplicity for our sake granted by the looking glass of the Spirit. The Lord Jesus sits above all creation, that which He Himself has made, and all things continue at the behest of His power. Human words can describe Him but only the Spirit of God can unveil Who He is to any woman born sinner. He is the great I Am.

He has been relegated to the back of the modern theological bus only to be discussed usually in musings about different perspectives of Who He is in this world today and, oh yes, how He relates to us today. But Jesus relates to us today the same way He related to those on the Day of Pentecost, the same way He related to Luther, the same way He related to Whitefield, the same way He related Moody, the same way He related to Tozer. We should not be so consumed with dissecting how Christ relates to us, we should be desirous to learn how we should relate to Him. Indeed. And I challenge you this Sunday, as you arrive on the grounds of the church and exit your car, restrict your conversation to small greetings and listen to the conversations taking place before and after the service. I had done that several weeks in a row and I had not heard one, not one, conversation about Jesus. How often is He spoken of in our phone conversations, our dinner table, our car discussions, our blogs, and the preponderance of all our words never mention Him. So there He sits on His reigning throne, above all the universe, powerful and merciful, august and yet reaching into our cursed world, magnificent and glorious, and His own people barely talk of Him in their everyday lives. If God would transport you, me, and 100 other people to spend 3 hours before His magnificent throne, worshipping Him in all His glory, and granting us remembrance as we returned, would we speak of Him?

Well we will not be afforded that miracle but we have been given many other miracles that should translate into an uncontrollable urge to speak of Jesus. He has saved us from eternal judgment. Oh my, how can we ever cease to praise Him? Standing in the grocery store and the Spirit brings to mind how He has saved you from hell, do you praise Him regardless of the so called embarrassment? When listening to a worship song and the Spirit again brings to your mind that you have been eternally rescued do you suddenly worship Him with your voice even if you are alone. When do we make a phone call just to share with a brother or sister about something the Spirit showed you about our Wonderful Savior? Who gets more mouth time than Jesus in the life of an average believer? Bush, Clinton, Trump, Shaq, MacArthur, and list goes on and on. And the One Who should have the preeminence barely is the topic of discussion on Sunday mornings. Let us repent before the King of Kings and the Beautiful Lord of Lords.

Finally Jesus is the center of everything. And when we think about His resplendence and magnificence, we must ask the question “What is man that Thou art mindful of him??”. He has accomplished for us what we could never attempt to gain for ourselves, and He has secured it for eternity. Our future is no time framed vacation, no, it is captured in the eternal realm and He has included us in His plans. And think of this, would it not have been gracious for Jesus to have prepared an eternal paradise where we would go to live forever? But instead, remove your Spiritual shoes, our Lord has summed us to spend eternity in HIS VERY DWELLINGPLACE. If that ever really soaks into our Spiritual realities, we will never be restrained from speaking “those things which we have seen and heard”…about Him.

There is no such thing as "Easter". Worship the Risen Christ every day.


Cherie c. said...

What I could say is worthless, He has said and done it all, so I just:

Praise the Risen Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, Who Was, and Is, and Is to come.

Even so come, Lord Jesus.

Love to all my brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus,

Cherie c.

Lorena said...

I was just thinking about this a while ago, Rick...how whatever I said could never live up to how great God is. I could never describe that...say it appropriately enough. All that He is.
Thank you for this post.
May God receive all the glory that is His alone.
Hello to you, Cherie c.

Cherie c. said...

Hi Lorena,

How are you dear sister? I pray all is well. God Bless! =D

your sister in Christ Jesus,
Cherie c.