Saturday, March 31, 2018
One day the reformer Martin Luther was feeling rather down. The Pope was after him. His colleagues were bickering among themselves. He felt the heavy pressure that came with being a professor, pastor, and father. And he was in excruciating pain from kidney stones. As he moped around the house muttering underneath his breath, his wife Katherine announced in a solemn voice, “God is dead.” Luther looked at his wife with puzzlement and replied, “God is not dead!” Katherine went on to say, “It sure seems like God is dead by the way you are acting.” Luther thanked his wife and etched a Latin word on his desk: vivit. Vivit means, “He lives.” Whenever things weren’t going well, and Luther was tempted to complain about them, he looked at that one simple word and was invigorated. Because Jesus was alive Luther had every reason to be upbeat. On this Easter Sunday we have every reason to be upbeat, no matter how outwardly dark your life might be. Easter is an invitation for us to cheer up no matter what our circumstances or our prospects because we are God’s children, and because we will soon exchange our cross for a crown.
On this Easter day, I would like to share with you four points for our reflection:
1. The Route to Jesus’ Resurrection – Tearing from top to bottom
2. The Reasons for Jesus’ Resurrection – Tearing down the sting of death
3. The Realities of Jesus’ Resurrection – Tearing down the fears of suspicion
4. The Relevance of Jesus’ Resurrection – Tearing down structures of sin
1. The Route to Resurrection: From Mark 15: 37-47, we see that after Jesus gave a loud cry and breathed his last. The journey between Good Friday and Easter -
a. The curtain was torn in two from top to bottom – tearing down of temple rituals, sin, veils of hindrance – paving way for the direct revelation of God
b. Centurion’s testimony – Jesus Son of God – torn down his heart
c. Accompaniment of Women Disciples – till the burial site – torn down patriarchy
d. Courage of Joseph of Arimathea – Jesus burial – torn down timidity - Pilate’s surprise –
e. Burial of Jesus – tearing linen clothes and wrapping – tearing the rock for the tomb and rolling it down
So, the route to resurrection was “Tearing down from Top to Bottom” – an invitation for our Christian discipleship to tear down to two from top to bottom all the veils of our life to face and receive new life.
2. The Reasons for Resurrection: From I Corinthians 15, we see Paul, who says the risen Jesus has appeared to several people, nearly 500 and the last to the least of the apostle, Paul.
a. To tear down the net of sin and oppression - rebuild a salvific relationship
b. To tear down the sting of death – renew the gift of new life towards new creation
c. To tear down the domination of empire- reaffirming in the kingdom of God
d. To tear down the invalidation of secularism – reassuring to validate our faith in Jesus Christ and our proclamation in Jesus (14v)
3. The Realities of Resurrection: From Matthew 28: 1-10, we notice several realities that explain the resurrection of Jesus.
a. Tearing down of the tomb – empty tomb
b. Tearing down of the rock – rolling stone
c. Tearing down of the heavens – angels descending and sitting on the rolling stone
d. Tearing out the security guards – shook in fear and as dead men falling
e. Tearing away the wrapped linen clothes
f. Tearing the fears of the women disciples and later the men disciples
g. Tearing down the norms of messengers – women were chosen to be the messengers of resurrection
h. Tearing of the earth – a great earthquake happened at the resurrection moment
There is a seismic shift that day on the earth, and it invites us towards a seismic shift from our own perceptions and suspicions. Resurrection is real and those that believe in it will be empowered by its spirit, for Jesus as a first fruit was risen and the rest who follow him will soon have such experience.
4. The Relevance of Resurrection: Jesus is crucified and is risen now, so what is it for us now as his disciples:
According to BBC, we live in a time when 50 % of UK population are no religion, and a quarter of the Christian population doesn’t believe in resurrection. It is important to affirm that Jesus’ resurrection is real, for he rose back to life in body.
a. In light of Jesus being risen, what does “risen” mean for us today? Jesus tearing down the dominion of death is an invitation for us to join with Jesus in tearing down the curtains and veils of sin, oppression, injustice and all such forms that obstruct and hinder new life. Tearing down walls of division and building bridges of new life is a mark of Christian discipleship today.
b. Baptism is living out Christ’s resurrection – dying ourselves to sin and rising again to new life. Acts 5:27-32 – After Easter – courage
c. As a church we are called to proclaim and be life-giving agents to several people who are crucified and living situations of death in our times today?
d. Tearing down the I (me, and mine) in SIN, so that Salvation and New life will blossom in our lives.
Conclusion: Dad-kids- car-explaining Easter celebration in Church and said Jesus is no more in the grave. The little kid asked, “so if he is not in the grave, will he be there today in the church?” Is risen Christ present in our churches, are we risen communities where risen Jesus takes his abode? If he is not in the grave, where is Jesus today. Echoing with the call of prophet Jeremiah, “See, today I appoint you over nations and kingdoms to uproot and tear down, to destroy and overthrow, to build and to plant." 1:10 Resurrection is tearing down structures of sin and evil of our times today and promoting new life to people living in situations of death and lifelessness. Dr. Sarvepalli Radha Krishnan – former President of India – preaching in US on John 20 said, “Christians resurrection is unique to you, so live up to it.”
Wishing you all a very blessed Easter – Because He lives we can face tomorrow.
Rev. Raj Bharat Patta
1st April 2018
Pic courtesy: https://www.cpo.org.uk/range.aspx?range=4708&cat=1410