Celebrating our Risen Lord!

I’m grateful for all of the opportunities we have at this time of year to celebrate, enjoy, and congregate with our families. I love the ham, devilled eggs, potato salad, and green beans present at our typical Easter dinner. I enjoy a summer tan or blue seersucker suit with a pink or orange bow tie and white bucks (no white before Easter!) to celebrate the seasonal change. And, sorry Halloween, there’s no candy like Easter candy: peeps, Reese’s eggs, and chocolate- covered marshmallow bunnies. It is a fun time of year.

Yet, we have to intentionally set before us the reason for this time of year. We must consider that at the heart of this celebration we don’t find eggs, or candy; rather we find a bloody cross and an empty grave. Our risen Lord Jesus, who will soon return riding a horse and judging the nations, reigns over this holiday.

Behold, my servant shall act wisely; he shall be high and lifted up, and shall be exalted. (Is 52:13) 

Jesus, the eternal Son of God, incarnated as man, born of a virgin, lived His life without sin. He “acted wisely” in that He never sinned in word or deed, and never failed to do that which was required. He alone satisfied the requirement of the law, fulfilling it completely.

Yet it was the will of the LORD to crush him… (Is 53:10) 

Although Jesus never sinned, deserved no punishment, earned eternal life, it was the Father’s will to kill Him as a sacrifice for us. “He made Him who knew no sin to become sin on our behalf…” Jesus surrendered His rights, allowed Himself to be killed, so that our sin-debt would be satisfied. Only the death of a spotless and worthy sacrificial Lamb could atone for our sin.

He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. (Is 53:3-6) 

From the garden of Gethsemane to the cross, Jesus took on the burden of our sin. He became our atoning sacrifice, dying in our place. “He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.” He was pierced, crushed, chastised, and wounded for our transgressions and iniquities to bring us peace and healing. “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.”

For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last he will stand upon the earth. (Job 19:25) 

The bloody cross was never to be the end of the story. They took Jesus down from the cross and put him a brand new tomb. They closed it up, sealed it, and placed a guard around it. And yet, on Sunday morning, Jesus walked bodily out of the tomb.

Dr. Luke, recording the sermons of the early church under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit in Acts, put it this way: “This Jesus God raised up…” (2:32). “And you killed the Author of life, whom God raised from the dead…” (3:15). “Let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead…” (4:10). “The God of our fathers raised Jesus, whom you killed by hanging him on a tree…” (5:30). “They put him to death on a tree, but God raised him on the third day and made him to appear…” (10:39-40). “And though they found in him no guilt worthy of death, they asked Pilate to have him executed. And when they had carried out all that was written of him, they took him down from the tree and laid him in a tomb. But God raised him from the dead…” (13:28-30). “The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead…” (17:30-31). Jesus is alive!

Our hope is found in the raising of Jesus, our sacrifice. Paul offered this hope, “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God has raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”

So, this Sunday, and every Sunday, we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus. We celebrate in many ways, but our ultimate celebration is found in our confession: “Jesus is Lord.” Because He is Lord, we pledge our lives, our worship, and our eternity to His glory.

 

Come and Celebrate!
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Pastor Jim