He is risen
He is risen indeed
These are the stirring words of the Easter Sunday message. You will not have heard it said in church this year because of the lockdown but it appears in many articles produced for distribution to church members and also in on-line videos produced by ministers.
The first line is a statement of fact
The second line asserts that this is verified fact
Why is it so important that Christ was raised from the dead?
In the Garden of Eden, the plan was for Adam and Eve to live in the special place prepared by God. There was no concept of death.
And then Adam and Eve sinned, realised what they had done, were very afraid and hid from God. God provided a remedy for their sin by providing clothes for them made from animal skins. This was a sure sign that a sacrifice had been made. However, they had to leave the Garden.
At the Passover in Egypt, a pure lamb was sacrificed and the blood sprinkled on the door lintel. The angel of death then passed over the house as the sacrifice had been made. This was for the protection of the children of Israel from the final plague.
This turned into an annual feast, the feast of the Passover, when a lamb was sacrificed by the high priest for the sins of the nation.
God’s plan was to have a once and for all sacrifice and Jesus, his son came to earth as a man, lived a perfect life and was crucified as a common criminal. He took with him to his grave the sins of the world.
It is only in his resurrection when Jesus would leave the sins in the grave and rise in newness of life that God’s plan was accomplished and the means of salvation were provided not to the nation, but to every single individual. By accepting the sacrifice of Jesus our sins are forgiven and we individually set out on the journey of life together with the Holy Spirit working with us and bringing us closer to God.
Paul tells us that "If Christ be not risen, your faith is vain”
But what about on that day 2000 years ago when Jesus was in the grave. The disciples were confused and distressed. What about all the prophecies. Why had Jesus been Killed? Then Mary came running up to them. She had gone to the tomb to embalm the body and when she got there, the stone had been moved and the body was missing. She ran back to the other disciples who came and looked in the empty tomb. They didn’t understand and went back to their confusion and distress, leaving Mary behind..
For the world to believe that Jesus was risen from the dead, there would need to be many witnesses and we see that Jesus appeared to Mary, the disciples and others in different places. We will look at four of these:
Mary meets the risen Christ
Peter meets the risen Christ
Thomas meets the risen Christ
Two disciples meet the risen Christ
Each encounter was very different and the response was also different. However, it was clear that each one was saying in their own way "He is risen indeed” They had verified it in their own minds and were totally convinced.
As we wait patiently for the freedom to meet together again in worship, perhaps we should be seeking the risen Christ who will change our lives and outlook. Then we will be able to say "He is risen indeed”