“Alleluia! He is Risen.” “Christ is risen indeed. Alleluia!” And with that proclamation and response, the 50-day season of Eastertide began last Sunday. For Prince Philip and me, it was at our 7 am early Easter service which was followed by two more Easter worship services. We arrived at church at 6 am and left around 1:30 pm. After three glorious, robust, celebratory services — my, my — we knew for sure we’d been to church that day!
And we knew something else — something of much more vast importance: Jesus is not dead. JESUS IS ALIVE. The tomb is empty. The grave couldn’t hold Him. For His love of the whole world and for our every sin, He suffered and gave up His life. Jesus died. But death was not victor. In this one lone and isolated case in the history of humankind, this dead body after three days did not remain dead. Instead, the Spirit of God came upon Jesus in that tomb, perhaps somewhat like He did over Mary at the conception of our Lord, or at Jesus’ water baptism in the River Jordan. Paul tells us in Romans 8:11 that “the Spirit … raised Christ Jesus from the dead.” His body, now healed from His torture it seems, except the wounds still apparent on His side and in His hands, arose and cast aside the death linens that had once bound Him. He even took the time, John 20:7 says to fold or roll up his face linen and set it in a special place which according to Jewish meal custom meant, “I’m coming back!”
And then, bursting forth from the tomb, Jesus spent 40 days SHOWING UP in the lives of the apostles, His other followers and other everyday people. 1 Corinthians 15:6 says at one time, He SHOWED UP at some occasion when over 500 people were gathered. No wonder segments of the Church continue to celebrate Easter for seven weeks or 50 days — that’s the season we call Eastertide — “Tide” being an old English word for “time” or “season.” The resurrection of Jesus is worthy of more than a one-day head-nod, a few Easter hymns and a ham dinner!
THE RESURRECTION OF JESUS HAS RADICAL IMPLICATIONS FOR ALL HUMANKIND … and especially for those who know suffering.
I talked to my friend Cindi yesterday. I don’t think she’d mind if I told you. A longtime member of St. James who just in the last couple of years moved to another part of the country, Cindi has — with her dear husband John at her side — fought cancer for many, many years. Cindi has had innumerable doctors, procedures, surgeries and medications down through the years. She has a “special” kind of cancer and one which the doctors are amazed she has lived with so long and in truth, in such relative good health. I have long called Cindi’s body a “platform for the miraculous.” It appears Jesus deeply loves Cindi and has continued to answer in a loving and very unique way the many prayers for her healing and the continuation of her life.
But Cindi knows suffering … ah yes, she knows suffering. And in this Easter Season, her body is suffering tremendously. The doctors’ prognosis is dismal and I could hear in her voice that special kind of weakness that comes from those who suffer from cancer. But as we talked, I heard something else in Cindi’s voice — something of much more vast importance. I heard Cindi rehearsing in her every word and thought, the radical implications of the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. Here are just a few:
1. Cindi knows that Jesus is alive and He is with her in this cancer. God has promised He would never leave us or forsake us. That promise is repeated throughout Scripture from Deuteronomy to Joshua to Psalms to Hebrews and more. Because Jesus is alive, He is with us in all our times of trouble and He will not leave us!
2. Cindi knows that Jesus is alive and He understands her suffering. Jesus led the way for any and all of us who know suffering. As we arrive in the land of suffering, we find Jesus already there. He has gone ahead of us. Because He suffered His passion for us before dying on the cross, Jesus understands all our human suffering.
3. Cindi knows that Jesus is alive and her life is in His trustworthy hands. John 10:28-29 and Isaiah 49 promises that our lives are held securely in the hands of our Maker and our Savior. Isaiah 49:16 even goes so far as to say that we are engraved on the palm of His hand! Now in this season we can’t help but remember Thomas who doubted that Christ had risen and asked for proof. Jesus showed Him the hands that still held the wounds of the cross. In essence, Jesus was saying, “Thomas, here you are, engraved on the palm of my hands.” Yes, our life is held secure in His hands!
4. Cindi knows that Jesus is alive and even this cancer is being used by God to work out His divine purpose. It was fun yesterday to remind Cindi of the many, many times when God has come down through the power of His Spirit and touched her in a special way — the times He has used her to inspire others, to bring immense joy to her husband, family and church — and to bring hope to others who suffer from this terrible disease. Romans 8:28 is a good but hard verse when it promises that God will use all things in our life, even the awful things, to bring about His good and His divine purpose. Yet, for those of us who suffer with cancer or another type of life trauma, we want to know that somehow, in some way, what we are going through will count for good. Only God can make that happen.
These are just a few of the things I heard from Cindi yesterday. In her trust in the Lord in this most difficult time in her life, she encouraged me as she always has. For all the days she is given by God on this earth and for all eternity, she will not be known by her cancer, but instead by her faith. And none of that would be possible except that she serves a RISEN CHRIST. Only because our JESUS IS ALIVE can Cindi live the life of victory she has lived and lives today and all the tomorrows of her life.
An old hymn comes to mind. If you know it, sing it with me because as I write it, I am singing it with a full heart. You see, praise God, there are RADICAL IMPLICATIONS OF THE RESURRECTION OF OUR LORD JESUS!
I Serve a Risen Savior
I serve a risen Savior, he’s in the world today;
I know that he is living whatever men may say;
I see his hand of mercy; I hear his voice of cheer,
And just the time I need him, he’s always near.
He lives, he lives, Christ Jesus lives today!
He walks with me and talks with me
Along life’s narrow way.
He lives, he lives, salvation to impart!
You ask my how I know he lives?
He lives within my heart.
Rejoice, rejoice, O Christian,
Lift up your voice and sing.
Eternal hallelujahs to Jesus Christ the king!
The hope of all who seek him,
The help of all who find,
None other is so loving, so good and kind.
SO WHAT ARE YOUR RADICAL IMPLICATIONS OF THE RESURRECTION? Let me know your thoughts by posting a comment to this blog. I love to read and respond!