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Sunday, 31 March 2013

The Lord is risen! He is risen indeed!

I love that title to Dr Tony Campolo's message - "It's Friday; but Sunday's coming!"  It's a wonderful, yet simple, reminder that so often, when things seem dark, we may still look ahead with hope.  That first "Good Friday" must have seemed, to the followers of Jesus, to have been as dark as it was possible to be.  But Sunday was coming, and with it, the wonder, and the glory, of the Resurrection!

On Friday, I asked the question "What's so 'good' about Good Friday?"  So, what's so special about the Resurrection of that same Jesus Who hung on the cross and died for your sins and for mine?  Well, apart from the fact that a resurrection is pretty special in itself, it's the result of that resurrection that is of the utmost importance.

The question, then, is: "What is the result of the Resurrection of Jesus?"

The first, and obvious result is that death has been vanquished.  So Paul can write, quoting the prophet Isaiah, that "Death is swallowed up in victory." (I Cor 15:54).  It follows, then, that neither can death hold those who die (physically) in Him.  As some of the sports commentators might say: "That's a result"!

However, wonderful 'though that result is, it is not all.  It is also worth noting that the resurrection of Jesus proves that God's plans are always fulfilled.  So Peter, on the first Day of Pentecost of the Christian era, preaches, "Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a Man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs which God did through Him in your midst, as you yourselves know - this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men.  But God raised Him up, having loosed the pangs of death, because it was not possible for Him to be held by it." (Acts 2:22-24).

The Resurrection of Jesus also eases the pain when loved ones, who are in Christ, die.  Paul, again, writing to the believers in Thessalonica, assures them "... concerning those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope.  For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep." (I Thess 4:13-14).  We grieve when someone who has been loved by us dies.  But the disciple of Jesus has just moved to a better life - "promoted to Glory", as our friends in the Salvation Army would put it - meaning that our grief is tempered by our perspective on eternity.

So, on this Resurrection Day, we gladly affirm, "The Lord is risen!  He is risen indeed!  Hallelujah!"

And we rejoice!

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