March 31, 2013

Luke 24:5-6 “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; He has risen!”

This question by the angels is beautiful in its simplicity, impact, and I think, humor. It was totally appropriate for the moment, but it is actually appropriate today as well. It is sad how many people don’t really grasp that Jesus is alive today, as much as when He walked with the 12 by the Sea of Galilee. The terminology used in dating the US Constitution acknowledges it: “In the year of our Lord, 1787.” However, people put Him on the same level as the Buddha or Mohammed, and those guys are long dead and gone. No other religion is like Christianity because no other religion has a risen Savior who lives forever more. It was the cross that paid for our salvation, but it is the empty tomb that demonstrates it is real. Today is the most joyous, triumphant day of the year for any true believer, and that has nothing to do with bunnies and chocolate! Today is the anniversary of the reason prayer isn’t just an academic, philosophical exercise in wishful thinking, it’s talking with someone who is as real and alive as we are, even if He’s not visible to our physical eyes at this point. Evangelism isn’t trying to convince someone to join a religion, it’s introducing them to Jesus. If we don’t have a firm grasp ourselves on His resurrection, we certainly aren’t going to be effective in doing that.

One of the spiritual milestones in my life came during what was a simple conversation between me and my mother when my parents and I happened to be driving on the US Air Force base where I went to school. I can see the exact location in my mind’s eye, when I asked my mother (my father was driving) how I could know Jesus was real. I was already a baptized Christian, but everyone has moments of doubting. She answered by reminding me of the words to a familiar Christian song, He Lives: “You ask me how I know He lives? He lives within my heart.” I recognized that to be true, and I was satisfied. The reason so many churches have strayed so far from the Bible is because Christ doesn’t live in the hearts of too many of their members, and especially leadership. He won’t come in unless we repent and believe, and too many people have learned to recite a creed without repenting. As a pastor, I too have been tempted to use a formulaic approach to salvation, thinking that if people say the right words, they’re saved. If they haven’t repented, the words don’t really change anything, because Jesus won’t live in an unrepentant heart. I need to call people to repentance, and let them know that there is a Savior who died and is alive, ready to give them His eternal life on the basis of their repentance and faith.

Father, thank You that this is Easter Sunday! Thank You that I have the privilege of speaking at the sunrise service in a few minutes, as well as in our regular morning service. Thank You for the clear messages You’ve given me. Help me deliver them by Your Spirit in Your power and purity, so that all my hearers may be strengthened and encouraged, and many brought to salvation, for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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