Ten Minute Sermons
Easter Day 2012
Have you ever experienced the murky darkness of three days in a tomb? Well, no...but all of us have experienced the murky darkness brought on this world by human sin. All of us, I believe, have been oppressed by others; all of us, I know, have been weighed down by the pressures and trials of this troubled world; all of us, I hope, have been shamed by our own shabby treatment of God's precious creations - especially His most cherished creations, our fellow man.
Theologians often describe our journey through this mortal plane as the experience of "the already and the not yet". Although we have not yet experienced the deserved death our sin has wrought, we do occasionally get a taste of the bitter fruit our sin brings into this world. We've not experienced death, but there are some days it seems so.
Blessedly, there is an experience of "the already and not yet" in Easter as well. Clearly, Jesus' rising from three days in the tomb allows us the hope that we too might rise from our own graves into the loving embrace of our Heavenly Father. Jesus said if you believe in Him, believe in His sacrifice on the Cross for your sins, you will have everlasting life. And we know that life, true life, is perfect communion with Almighty God.
But life eternal, dwelling in the New Heavens and the New Earth described in the Bible, is a "not yet". We have "not yet" shuffled off this mortal coil, we have "not yet" taken up residency in the New Jerusalem.
We live here: in "the already", and the sting of death, that is separation from God, is a very real circumstance for so many people. Its effects the reality of all who inhabit this planet. Greed, lust, hatred...human self-love of all kinds...weighs heavily on our existence, today, in "the already". Fortunately, Easter lives in "the already" as well.
Christ knows what this wayward world holds. Jesus said to His disciples (John 16), "In the world you will have tribulation.", but He then says, "take heart, I have overcome the world". And in the next chapter He prays to His Father, of those who will believe in Him because of His disciples' testimonies, that they "may be with Me where I am [...] I made known to them Your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which You have loved Me may be in them, and I in them".
In His resurrection, Christ overcomes this wayward world...he overcomes death, and He asks His Father for us to be with Him, now, in "the already". As we continue in this world Jesus (in this same chapter of John) recognizes that we who believe are not actually of this world. We reside with Him, in the presence of His Father. And in the presence of God is life...true life.
As the anxieties of this wicked world encompass our lives...the specter of separation - separation from God - looms about, yet, the living Christ allows vital access to His Father. Not only are we promised life everlasting with our Creator, Jesus' resurrection allows us to approach life - true life - here, now...in "the already".
What extraordinary comfort that brings. Our remembrance of the Lord's Supper, here in a few minutes, actually reveals a Holy Communion with God. It is an outward sign of that inner grace that God provides to all who believe in His Son. Because Christ rose from the dead, He lives - with you - in "the already" - until the end of time allowing access to His Heavenly Father.
When temptation calls...the living Christ is with you...remember the wilderness: He knows what it's like to be tempted. When sorrow beckons...the living Christ is with you...remember, "Jesus wept": sorrow touched His life as well. When betrayal stabs you in the back...the living Christ is with you...remember Judas, He knows duplicity. When human cruelty rips at the fiber of your being...the living Christ is with you...remember the Sanhedrin, the Roman soldiers, the scourging, the nails: He is painfully aware of human ruthlessness.
And when you sin, and you will, and in your shame crawl sorrowfully to the foot of Calvary...the crucified and then resurrected Christ is with you...remember that Cross: He knows the weight of all sin, He knows its penalty. Because He rose from your death, deadly sin has no claim on you. Separation from God, is not a possibility for believers.
Have you ever experienced the murky darkness of the tomb? No, and the Easter hope of the resurrection is that you never have to. Do you ever experience the murky darkness of this present sinful world? Oh yes, but the Easter promise of the resurrection is that your risen Lord can be with you: giving you constant, encouraging, strengthening life. It's the only way I can get through this tortured world...how about you?
It is a Happy Easter.