The Lord Is Risen! The Lord Is Risen Indeed!
I am from Winston-Salem, NC. The Salem part of this city was founded in 1766 by Moravians who had left persecution in Moravia (now in the Czech Republic) under the leadership of Count Nicolas Von Zinzendorf. Salem was to be their model city in the New World, and Home Moravian Church was placed in the center of the city.
One of the traditions at Home Moravian is the Easter Sunrise Service, a tradition that started in 1732 in Hernhut, Germany. Very early on Easter Sunday, small brass bands will march through the area playing Easter hymns. As the bands play, thousands of people descend on Old Salem, the historical area surrounding the church. The small bands merge into larger bands. More people arrive. The anticipation builds. The sky starts to lighten. More anticipation. Finally, all eyes go to the exterior balcony of the church, and the minister emerges. A hush falls on the crowd. Then in a loud voice, the minister proclaims: THE LORD HAS RISEN!
To this proclamation, the crowd responds en masse: THE LORD HAS RISEN INDEED!
With that declaration, a great tenet of Christianity is affirmed: the truth of the resurrection. The ramifications of the resurrection impact every aspect of our Christian life every day, not just on Easter Sunday. It is the resurrection which proves God’s love, secures our victory, and provides hope for all believers. Those truths are worth remembering every day.
Resurrection Proves His love
From an early age, we sing, “Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so.” The Bible tells us this truth in John 3:16, Ephesians 2:4-5, 1 John 4:9-11, and many others. My favorite verse about God’s love is Romans 5:8, “but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Love is not an emotion; it is a verb. It requires action. This verse clearly shows us the action Jesus took to demonstrate His love for us. Jesus was willing to die for sinners like you and me.
Have you ever considered for whom you would die? Not only would it be the ultimate sacrifice, it would be the ultimate demonstration of love. My list is very short. I don’t know about you, but my list does not consist of anyone I consider bad or evil. Yet this verse makes it clear, God loved us even though we were covered in sin. He didn’t love us because of our goodness or worth or significance. In fact, God loved us in spite of everything we are. He loved us to the point that He was willing to die on the cross to take away the sins that covered you and me.
That is astounding in its own right. However, God’s love did not stop there. His love for us was powerful enough that He did not stay dead but rose three days later. His love takes us to heaven to be with Him forever. How can we doubt His love in the light of these actions?
Resurrection Secures Our Victory
As a pastor, one of the hardest things to do is to sit with a family as a loved one is dying. It is a completely helpless feeling. You want to do something to stop the person from dying and to take away the pain of the family. While you can comfort them and pray, you cannot do anything to stop the process of death. Inside that moment, it feels like the battle has been lost and death has won the victory. Since death will visit each one of us, it certainly does not seem like a defeated enemy.
1 Corinthians 15:26 tells us that death will be defeated, but we want to know when that will happen. The answer is found in Revelation 20:14. After the Great White Throne judgment in which sinners are judged for rejecting Christ, death itself is thrown into lake of fire. All the power it ever wielded is eternally gone.
That is a wonderful ending, but how does that help us when people are grieving? Here is a tremendous truth: as believers in Christ, we live in that victory now. Death holds no power over us because there is no reason to fear death. Why should we live in fear of an enemy that is already defeated? When Jesus emerged from the tomb, He emerged victorious over death.
Resurrection Provides Hope
In 1 Corinthians 15, Paul outlines the importance of the resurrection. As he is making his points, one verse stands out. In verse 19, Paul writes, “If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people to be most pitied.” At first reading it sounds shocking. It sounds like believing in Christ means people should feel sorry for us.
Think about it. If this life is all we have, then why bother believing in Jesus Christ and following Him? It would not make us more popular, wealthier, more important, or provide any measurable benefit. At the end of life, we die just like everyone else, but we would not get what we had hoped for afterward. What would be the point?
The answer is found all the way down in verse 52. Paul writes, “the dead will be raised imperishable and we shall be changed.” Here is our hope. Following Christ in this life guarantees death is not the end. One day the earthly bodies we possess here will be raised and gloriously transformed into eternal, imperishable bodies. Also, as we wait for the resurrection of our bodies, we wait in the presence of the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:8). Contrary to being pitiable, the Christian life is one to be desired. It not only gives us victory in our earthly lives, but also it provides hope for something better to come after death. That something better is to hear our Savior say, “well done, good and faithful servant . . . enter into the joy of your master” (Matthew 25:23).
This Easter thousands will gather in Old Salem, and millions across the globe, to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ. As believers we will celebrate and thank God for our salvation which is only found through Jesus Christ. Our salvation was secured that first Easter Sunday over 2,000 years ago when Jesus burst forth, alive, from the tomb. On Easter as we look back on the resurrection, it reminds us of God’s love for us, the victory we have, and the hope for which we long.