Drew Maney_COTR.jpg

He is Risen! He is risen indeed!

That is the way that many Christian Easter Services begin. And, of course, the fact that He is Risen was first announced to Mary Magdalene and the other Mary by the angel of the Lord when they went to Jesus’ tomb on the third day after his death.

This stunning announcement propelled the two women to tell the other disciples of this amazing reality. Their Lord had been delivered from the bonds of death. The Son of God, who was active in the creation of the world and who came to be the final sacrifice and the true King of kings, had been killed by his own people. “He who suspended the Earth upon the waters, was hung upon a tree” begins one ancient hymn.

But, the Triune God delivered Him from the pangs of death because of His obedience even unto death. He lived a sinless life, showing to be a new, faithful Adam, who was faithful to the very end.

The first Adam died as a result of his sin, but the second Adam, even though He was killed, was resurrected and would soon ascend into heaven to take His seat with the Father until all of His enemies would be under His footstool.

That is the glorious story of the gospel! It’s not just that our sins are forgiven, though that is gloriously true because of the atoning sacrifice of Jesus. But, that is true because the true King has come, conquered death, and is reigning now.

And by God’s wonderful grace, we too are offered to share in this wonderful reality. Paul says in Colossians 1, that Jesus “is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent.” Jesus is the firstborn from the dead, and we who are united to him through baptism and faith can also look forward to the resurrection of our bodies.

Later on in chapter 2, Paul says that we have “been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead.”

We share in the life of the resurrected and ascended Jesus here and now. Obviously, we look forward to the final resurrection, but we also get to participate in the resurrected life of Jesus, here and now. We have been freed from the bondage of sin, receive his loving instruction on the Lord’s Day, receive the care, support, and love of His body, the church, throughout the week, and then are privileged to sit at table with Him and partake of the bread and wine, the body and blood of our Lord.

Every week, the Triune God calls his people to worship, which culminates in this glorious picture. His people, who are righteous because of the sacrifice of the Lamb of God, enter into His presence and participate in this glorious feast. We have true fellowship and communion with the one, true God. That is life! And, of course, it is only a foretaste of the feast to come!

Jesus said: “Come to me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For, my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

This last year has been a burden for many. Many are yearning for rest. And, if that is you, then come to source of life. Come to Jesus. Come to the one who defeated death and has been raised from the dead. He will give you rest and life.

If you trust in Christ, I encourage you to participate in your church. You are part of the body of Christ, and you must continue to build up others in your congregation and receive the love and care of Jesus from them. The Lord calls you to worship him every week; don’t neglect the many good things that He has for you. Come and rejoice that Jesus was resurrected and that He shares his life with you!

And, if you do not trust in Christ, then I encourage you to do so. Your heart will be restless until you come to Him. He has made you for a purpose; to have life and to have it abundantly. But, that life is found in communion with God.

The first stanza of a wonderful Easter hymn written by Martin Luther summarizes this wonderful festival day of Easter. “Christ Jesus lay in death’s strong bands, for our offenses given; But now at God’s right hand he stands, And brings us life from heaven.”

That is the wonderful story of the Resurrection! Come and praise the resurrected Lord.

Drew Maney is the Associate Pastor at Church of the Redeemer in West Monroe, Louisiana. Morning worship is at 10 a.m. each Sunday while evening worship begins at 6 p.m. each Sunday, at 715 Cypress Street in West Monroe.

(1) comment

Frank Sterle Jr.

At Easter I think about the great irony — and beauty — in the Jesus meaning/message.

Perhaps he didn’t die for humans as payment for their sins, the greatest being mostly the result of often-unchecked testosterone rushes; rather, Christ was brutally murdered because of humans’ seriously flawed sinful nature. Jesus was viciously killed because he did not in the least behave in accordance to corrupted human conduct and expectation — and in particular because he was nowhere near to being the vengeful, wrathful behemoth so many people seemingly wanted or needed their savior to be and therefore believed he’d have to be. Maybe Christ died in large part because people subconsciously wanted their creator to be a reflection of them, and their patriarchy? And, of course, Jesus also offended some high priests, money changers and Romans in-charge.

The people insisted on a messiah whose nature is of the unambiguously fire-and-brimstone angry-God condemnation kind of creator that’s quite befitting of our Old Testament, Torah and Quran.

Judaism’s version of messiah is essentially one who will come liberate his people from their enemies, which logically consists of some form of violence, before ruling over every nation on Earth. This fact left even John the Baptist, who believed in Jesus as the savior, troubled by his version of messiah, notably his revolutionary teachings of pacifistically offering the other cheek as the proper response to being physically assaulted by one’s enemy.

All that rejection, regardless of his unmistakable miracles — inexplicably healing crippling ailments, the lifelong blind, and most notably defying death with Lazarus — that were quite unlike many contemporary fraudster faith healers.

Maybe God became incarnate to prove to people that there really was hope for the many — especially for young people living in today’s physical, mental and spiritual turmoil — seeing hopelessness in a fire-and-brimstone angry-God-condemnation creator requiring literal pain-filled penance for Man’s sinful thus corrupted behavior (rather like an angry father spanking his child, really)? He became incarnate to show humankind what Messiah ought to and has to be. Fundamentally, that included resurrection.

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