“Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen.” Luke 24:5b
“When I saw Him, I fell at His feet as though dead. But He laid His right hand on me, saying, ‘Fear not, I am the first and the last, and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of dead and hades.’” Revelation 1:17-18
The crucifixion of Jesus Christ was a real event. To fulfill the perfect righteousness of God the Father, and the legal demands of the Old Covenant, Jesus allowed Himself to be put to death at the hands of His enemies. It was done by the scheming wickedness of men who hated Jesus, but it was also done exactly according to the prophesied and foreordained will of God. Jesus, the Lamb of God, suffered and died in humiliation upon a Roman cross that a way of final forgiveness and salvation might be opened. He died for you and for me.
Jesus, in His perfection, bore no malice toward His disciples who all but one (John) fled when He was captured and crucified. He bore no hatred toward those who physically whipped him, pounded thorns into his brow, and nailed Him to the cross. To make sure those watching knew this, He called out before His death, “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). Even as His life was ebbing away, Jesus continued His ministry of mercifully calling people to Himself – as a justly crucified man saw how Jesus suffered and believed in Jesus just before His death (Luke 23:39-43).
The resurrection of Jesus Christ was a real event. To be our Savior from death, Jesus must be a living Savior – the Living One. After three days, Jesus was raised from the dead by the power of God the Father and lives never to die again! He lives now to glorify Himself by saving sinners that they might experience the joy, freedom from sin and death, might worship His glorious name, and reign with Him forever on high! But the resurrection of Jesus was similar to the first coming of Jesus. Similar to His first coming, Jesus did not loudly announce what He was doing in the world. Instead, He first announced the glory of His new life to a simple woman, Mary Magdalene, then to His disciples, and then to the greater crowds. As with the first coming, Jesus revealed what He was doing in the world to those who loved His name and sought His appearing.
He is the First and the Last – He existed before us and will exist when the world has seen its last day. He is the Living One – Jesus is the one who gives us life. He gives eternal life to those who believe in Him – a life that begins in the here and now, setting us free from the bondage of sin and addiction. That life expands from now into eternal life, from now into His glorious presence forever. He holds the keys of death – death can no longer hold those who are followers of Jesus Christ. Death is the greatest enemy, the final enemy, but it has been overcome by Jesus!
This time of year is a time to focus on these glorious realities. It is a time to turn our attention away from the troubling things of our time and realize that Jesus continues to work out His glorious final plan of salvation in this world! He continues to work out His glorious plan of salvation in your life! It is a time to look to those around us that may not understand what I have written about here. A time to study the Scriptures that speak to the crucifixion and resurrection – that we might worship with a full heart and grow in our understanding of what Jesus has done to accomplish our salvation!
May the Lord bless you this Easter as we seek to exalt Jesus,
– Pastor Vic