Christ Is Risen! He Is Risen, Indeed! (1 Cor. 15; John 20)

The purpose of this writing is to give an account of “The Resurrection of Jesus Christ” and of some matters that accompanied it. Also we will remark on the nature of our faith as a derivative component of God’s work and on necessity of our own response to God’s work. Then there is a reminder that after Christ’s resurrection all people became accountable to God for what they believed and how they lived. Because to live and believe are the two basic requirements for all people who strive for their salvation. At the heart of the Good News preached by Paul there is Christian hope rooted in the promise of eternal life. In (Joh 11:25,26) the Lord said, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will still live, even if he dies. Whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?”

The first well knowing miracle after Christ’s resurrection that is proven even without anyone’s believe is the spreading of the Good News around the world for a short time. And second one of which we are even witnesses is about its continuation of booming out with a great vibration in the atmosphere which peal has been kept going around the globe on and on without ceasing for two millenniums. For the Spirit of the risen Christ lives in our midst; He speaks by our lips; He produces unspeakable joy in devoted hearts as for example today, on our hearing the Paschal Greeting: “Christ is risen! He is risen, indeed!” And we reply in Spirit, “Glory to our God, the King of the universe who by his death has destroyed death, and by his rising to life again has won for us eternal salvation.” Alleluia!

It is quite right that Christ’s resurrection came like a bolt from the blue, and it made tremendous impact on the world for centuries, if not forever. But it would be nothing more than a miracle remembered by a single generation for two simple reasons. First, due to a human impotency to prove a miracle by affordable means without performing an additional miracle. That is why God sent upon the apostle the Holy Spirit to accomplish their task, (Col 1:28,29). And secondly, because the resistible powers of this world incredibly persist in opposing Christ’s work of mankind salvation, (2Thess 2:7).

Today we observe substantial decline of the traditional Christian values against the background of moral emptiness and indifference to all truth that itself is a sign of the Day approaching, (1Tim 4:1). The significant shift towards non-orthodox beliefs has been made in the doctrinal corpus. According to (Mat 28:11-15) the first well- known falsehood against Christ’s resurrection happened right after. There were the earthquake and next – the most incredible thing – the appearing of the angel; these two events produced the great effect upon the soldiers that caused them to run swiftly from the guarded post. They went into the city and witnessed of what was seen to the authorities. After a meeting the Jewish counsel asked the guardians to remain silent on that matter. Next, they have received an order to speak around as it would be truth that Jesus’ disciples carried away the body of their teacher, (Mat 27:62-66; 28:1-4, 11-15). No surprise that the solders received a large sum of money as a pledge for that forgery. Later the rumor spread by the soldiers came up with many false details while having been taught in synagogues even to this day. And on top of this, the liberal scholars teach of the historical Resurrection in favor of mythology.

With all its possible implications advocates of the devil want people to believe that the Resurrection was a later fabrication of the apostles. The mixing truth with untruth is the old devil’s strategy; from that blend the false doctrines grow up without number. Heresies and their adherents continue their destructive work until the Lord will terminate all evil with his coming. But it is our fall when we show tolerance or even respect to false teachers and their wealthy sponsors. Now, let us think over all heretics and their teachings as the real treat of our belief, and let us keep in mind two things as a practical. First, stay away from heretic companies, (Tit 3:10; 1Thess 3:6). And second, proclaim the resurrection of our Lord in truth and Spirit so that the adversary of Christ’s resurrection would not be able to strip off our festal garments.

For now we are going to recall the resurrection account with faith-building purposes. According to the Scripture Christ’s resurrection had happened very early in the morning, on the first day of the week if numbering in Hebrew. Even though Christ’s resurrection have not be seen for the obvious reason, the events around reflect at once vividly the situation. First, the shake of ground occurred with descending of the Angel. He opened the sepulcher by rolling away the rock from its mouth. Both the appearance and the action of this angel cast great fear upon the keepers so they were shaken and become as dead men for a moment. Then the certain women came into view. The Scripture calls all of them by name; there were the wife of Clopas, Salome, and Joanna, they brought some spices to render their loving service. As women saw the Angel sitting on front of the opened tomb they stopped in fear. But the Angel said, 5 … do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. 6 He is not here, for he has risen. Come, see the place where he lay.“ So, they came in and saw that the tomb was empty. “ Go quickly and tell His disciples that He has risen from the dead, and behold He is going ahead of you into Galilee, … , “ (Mat 28:6,7). The women left and did exactly how the Angel told them. “ Mary Magdalene came a bit after women’s departure; she saw the rock rolled away and the opened tomb; at that moment believing to the deceptive sign and fearful idea that the Jewish leaders could steal the Lord’s body, she ran swiftly to see Simon and other disciple. As she found them, she told, “They have taken away the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have laid him!”

Here we placed the painting, “Peter and John Running to the Tomb,” by Eugene Burnand. The artist depicted Peter and John running as fast as they can to see if the news spoken by Mary Magdalene was true. When they ran to the tomb, the dawn of that morning struck them with brightness and something significant ahead. The picture reveals a feeling of deep concern on their faces, perhaps with mixed expectations, joy and sorrow changing each other at the speed of a kaleidoscope. We can not be absolutely sure whether John believed the message spoken by Mary or doubted it until he saw the empty tomb and after that believed. But regarding other apostles the Scripture says clear that they did not believe in the resurrection of Christ from the words of women until Jesus himself came among them with a message of reconciliation saying, “Peace be to you,” (Joh 20:19). Jesus’ appearing became a turning point in lives of the apostles. Soon after, the Lord sent them with a message of reconciliation and forgiveness of sins for his name sake; they came and owned the new disciples throughout the world teaching them the Word of God as they had received from Christ himself. And the Lord was with them, as promised, (Mat 20:20). He is also with those who have believed in him through the preaching of Gospel, (Joh 17:20,21; Mat 9:9 …. ).

The history of Christian Church proves a fact that the good news of Christ’s resurrection made great changes in lives of many people. The apostle John was given to see a great multitude of people which no man could count, they came out of every nation and of all tribes, they stood before the throne and before the Lamb, they were dressed in white robes with palm branches in their hands, (Rev 7:9). They are those who believed in Jesus and followed him faithfully to the very end. Now, longing for being in one company with all Christ’s saints we immediately grabbed hope that God at work in our salvation is also with us. Isn’t Jesus says that with God all things possible? (Mat 19:26). Yes, our salvation is possible with God. There is no power in the spiritual and physical realms that can stop our Good Shepherd from accomplishing salvation of the rest, “Alleluia! Salvation, power, and glory belong to our God,” (Rev 19:1).

All people are accountable before God for what they believe. The striking truth is that the unwillingness of certain people to believe to the apostolic message makes them guilty; that is only reason why they have been already judged, (John 3:18). If it is so, then, how much aware we should be regarding things God wants us to believe? (1Pet 1:17). And what are those things? A summary of what we are given to believe was formulated in the Creeds by several ecumenical counsels, they are known as the Apostles’, Nicene, and Athanasian. To be relevant to Paschal Feast we tend to connect Christ’s resurrection and the resurrection of the dead as things God wants us to believe. Significantly, all the Creeds speak aloud on that matter. Should not the conclusion of the Athanasian Creed alert us? “… whoever does not believe it faithfully and firmly cannot be saved.”

The teaching of man’s inability to believe and follow Jesus Christ faithfully is true, (Mat 16:17). Only through and by grace of God we become a new person who is able to believe and follow Christ, (1Pet 1:3; Jas 1:18). But faith and it’s fruits are not a box of chocolate wrapped in colorful paper we wish gratefully to accept. Our faith took its root as a result of God’s work in our private life, and secondly, as a result of work that was made in universal level. To make us believe in beings and things that are supernatural by themselves require additional miracles God works out on behalf of all people. The new era of excessive grace took its beginning with coming God in flesh two millenniums ago. During 3,5 years of Christ’s ministry in Palestine the Holy Trinity revealed a great number of wonderful things where the climax of all was Christ’s resurrection. These things have been done with a purpose, – “so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing we may have life in his name,” (Joh 20:31). Once Jesus replies to people who asked him “What shall we do, so that we may work the work of God?” (Joh 6:29). The answer was, “This is the work of God that you believe in him whom he has sent.” If it would be God’s hands to believe in our place, then, there is no reason to pronounce a judgment upon unbelievers; but God is just. Also this statement is true with respect to a precious gift of the Spirit such as agape / the divine love produced within our heart. But God will not love in our place, instead He loves us in His own place, for “ …. Christ died for us,” (Rom 5:8). So, the same pattern can be applied to faith and our ability faithfully follow Christ. God will not believe in our place, therefore, we are accountable before the Maker of our faith, (Mat 25:19).

Why certain people are merciful and others heartless with respect to the same matter? Why are some people afraid of doing something illegal and some are not afraid? Why some people love Christ and others hate him? We can say that humans are all different on this matter. While it is so, the fact of resistance God’s work to believe in it can be explained as a result of one’s harden heart, the heart that dislike to live according to the divine establishment, (Heb 3:15). The “harden hearts” as usually associated with the belief that physical comfort is the highest value. Here is a striking picture of materialistic life-stile we found in the book of Wisdom. “Come therefore and let’s enjoy the good things that exist. Let’s use the creation earnestly as in our youth. Let’s fill ourselves with costly wine and perfumes, and let no spring flower pass us by. Let’s crown ourselves with rosebuds before they wither. Let none of us go without his share in our proud revelry. Let’s leave tokens of mirth everywhere, because this is our portion, and this is our lot,” (Wis 2:6-9). This is a colorful description of lovers of pleasures; their values attached to the flesh and they will not inherit life eternal until they repent, (Rom 8:13). Somehow materialism pop up and was lovely accepted as an alternative to the life according to God’s commandment. We are all accountable before God of what we have believed and what we done while living in body, good or bad. Now it is a matter of our willingness. We may believe God’s work or not, but later it will be a matter of our like or dislike.

As far as we have touched eternal retribution let me remark on the matter which circulates today amid all nations and tribes. Yes, it is the pandemic outbreak caused by COVID-19. For couple months it has spread rapidly around the glob; probably the economical and psychological crisis will follow with it also. Statistic for today says that there are more than 3 million Coronavirus cases in total and more than 216 thousands death cases. The growth of cases will continue and who can say when this exponent will break down. Speaking of the days God’s vengeance, the pandemic situation is applicable to one of the seven seals described in (Rev 6:8). It is not that God Himself was a creator of the deadly virus but He allowed pandemic outbreak. What do you think happen when the wine is poured in excess? Will not it spill over the edges of the glass? So is God’s wrath, when human iniquities had reached its climax, the Lord poured out the heat of His anger, (Is 42:25). The Lord, our God is merciful, long-suffering, and He wishes not for any to perish but for all to come to repentance, (2 Pet 3:9). Therefore, the current pandemic can be attributed to a chance that triggers off repentance and turning to God; but if consider the Revelation of John to be relevant to our days, then it says that the majority of people will not change the manner of their thoughts because of their heart.

When the plague is on its way God’s people suffer the same shortage but not the same destiny; even having been afflicted in every way, they are not crushed; perplexed, and not despairing, (2Cor 4:8) because the love of God has been poured out within their hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to all who believed. “The Lord is good – indeed, he is a fortress in time of distress, and he protects those who seek refuge in him,” (Na 1:7; Ps 91:9). Then, if you are the one who are looking for truth, hurry up, have peace with God through your Savior Jesus Christ and follow him with faith empowered by love. “Because he has loved Me, therefore I will deliver him; I will set him securely on high, because he has known My name,” (Ps 91:14).

The good news where Christ’s resurrection is the heart, continues to be a major factor that leads people to Christ, the captain of our salvation. The apostolic message as soon as it is empowered by the revelation of the Holy Spirit brings to us comfort and a wonderful hope, salvation and eternal glory, ( 2Thess 2:16; 2 Tim 2:10). “Christ is risen! He is risen, indeed!” And all congregation reply, “Glory to our God, the King of the universe who by his death has destroyed death, and by his rising to life again has won for us eternal salvation.” Amen!

So let us keep the festival

To which the Lord invites us;

Christ is Himself the joy of all,

The sun that warms and lights us.

Now His grace to us imparts;

The night of sin is ended.

Alleluia! (LSB # 458, v.6)

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