Saturday, April 15, 2006

He is risen indeed

Maybe if we had launched satellites in AD33, this is how the area of Jerusalem may have looked after Good Friday...



But something amazing was about to happen



So what is so amazing about Easter Sunday

When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. Then he placed his right hand on me and said: "Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades.

Yesterday Jesus resided in the valley of the shadow of death, it was finished, all hope for his disciples had gone, but the inescapable fact is that something amazing happened...allow me...

In the reading above the Apostle John is faced with a vision of Jesus Christ glorified in the heavens. He responds to this awesome heavenly vision in the way that I think any of us would, total collapse. There was no musing and thinking, nice vision! This was a heart stopping and overwhelming sight, it was as if he was dead, probably pale faced and utterly motionless.

What is the response from this great and powerful God before him, is it to revel in John’s fear and servitude, is it to Lord it over him and play on the apostles insignificance and minuteness. Well obviously we should know by now the response that will come from Jesus. You remember in John chapter 6, the disciples are in a boat on the sea, a great storm comes about, and they see Jesus walking towards them on the water. His words are the same in that account as they are here in this account, DO NOT BE AFRAID, it is I, or I am the First and the Last, but listen do not be afraid.

Whenever the waves of a storm seem to be engulfing us, Jesus says, do not be afraid, and in verse 18 we can see that for those who fear death, or suffering, then there is assurance, and that assurance comes by way of persevering in Jesus, for there will be a reward, and what greater reward can anyone ever receive other than to be rewarded with victory over the grave. Victory which is based upon the fact that Jesus Christ has entered history, the first and last, has died, has risen, and has conquered death.

So be not afraid, for this Jesus holds the keys of Hades and of Death.

You know there will be a time for each one of us reading this blog today, and for every single person in the world, when the sting of death will rise up into our lives.

We all make plans and we plan for all eventualities, even death, but deep down we try to build structures that take the inevitability of death from our daily vision.

But like the tide that comes twice a day and washes the shoreline all over the world, death will come to wash at our feet, young and old, rich and poor, male and female, death knows no distinction. You do not need to teach death about racial equality, for there is no escaping the curse that afflicts every human being.

When you or I finally draw that last breath, then there are some things that will fade from our concern in an instant. We will not worry at that point how we are going to pay the mortgage, we will not worry about the hole in the cars exhaust, we will have no need to record next weeks episode of Eastenders, the children, for all we will care, can make as much noise as they want, and I daresay we should not be overly concerned whether that little child sucks or blows down their straw.

For all we will have is those we love, maybe husbands, wives, mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, sons and daughters.

Our sons and daughters may kiss our foreheads and say goodbye, our brothers and sisters may gaze on with tears in their eyes as we slip away, our parents will weep and plead for us not to go, and our husbands and wives will cling to us in the hope that we stay, or that they may go with us.

All to no avail, for death in all its terribleness will separate us from this world, from all our material possessions, and those we love.

As we stand before a vast and dark ocean that is death, knowing that we must cross it, we will be alone. Our loved ones hand will become a fading memory of reassurance that so recently gripped our own hand in an attempt to hold us from our journey. We will be alone, and as we walk through this valley of the shadow of death we will become aware that there is a shepherd in this valley, he was the first one to tread this path, and he knows the way through.

We will notice that the hand of our loved one may have let go, but we will sense another hand, and this hand has been there since before the foundation of the world and it has never let go, even in our darkest of days and even in the midst of our rebellion and prodigal wanderings, the hand of the Father never let go.

So now as we pass through deaths dark vale the Lord Jesus will take our hands and will finally lift us to the Father, and though we may have arrived at this place with the painful memories of those we have just left behind, with the bitter sting of tears still upon our face, the Father will with that same finger that wrote the law at Sinai, that same finger that drew in the sand outside the temple, will with all tenderness, wipe the tear from our eyes.

Rev 21:4…you see there shall be no more death, that old thing will have passed away.

Yet for us in the here and now, that old thing is still a reality, so we must not bury our heads in the sand and shrink away or deny the inevitability of our vapour like existence. Our attitude should be the attitude of victory, so that when we are faced with death, when we are challenged by the grave that seeks to ensnare us and takes us once again into captivity, we can declare from the rooftops, ‘listen death and grave, you could in no way, and by no means hold the prince of life in your clutches, and it is him I serve, him I follow and it is He who holds the keys that unlock those chains, if you could not hold the Prince of Life then you will not hold me', and like the Apostle Paul we can stand in all assurance and declare for all the spiritual powers and principalities to hear

‘Death where is your sting’

‘Grave where is your victory’, thanks be to God who gives us victory through our Lord Jesus Christ

And this is just something of what is so amazing about Easter Sunday...so my brothers and sisters, look forward with renewed hope and assurance, knowing that our redemption draws near.

1 comment:

Shannon Byous said...

Whew. Jesus holding my hand as I walk where I thought I was alone... I so love Jesus. He loved me first. Reading that part about thinking you're alone and then feeling the Shepherd's hand... Jesus is so loving and powerful and ALIVE!!! This is not just a story!!! Thank you for what you wrote!
Shan

 

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