April 7, 2012

He Is Risen!

(Teaching notes for Easter, 2012 by Rev. John Gishler)

These words “He is Risen!” announced a change in human history. No longer would humans have to live their lives in fear of the inevitability of death. If the promise of Jesus to rise from the dead after three days was true, all the other promises of Jesus were also true. Easter is a time to celebrate this Good News. Two very important questions arise:
·         Can we really believe God raised Jesus from death?
·         What does the Resurrection mean for us in our lives?

1.     Can we really believe God raise Jesus from death?
·         Modern people have questioned this since the Enlightenment
·         Modern people are skeptical about miracles – believe in their heads but don’t really believe in their hearts
·         Critical issue - our Faith in the reliability of the Teachings of Jesus as Lord and Saviour depend on the Resurrection
·         Without the Resurrection Jesus is at best a wonderful teacher
·         The alternative is fraud – Bible gives us no middle way
·         Evidence of no body – we can be sure the religious authorities who had Jesus crucified would try to refute the Resurrection
·         Evidence of the Bible – authentic confused human account (alternative of a fraud would be much more grandiose)
·         Evidence of changed lives – post-Resurrection Disciples were changed men – confident, fearless, determined, ready to die
·         Evidence of our own experience – many of us have personally experienced the supernatural or know someone who has and have no difficulty believing in the Resurrection
·         The news of the Resurrection is so good it is hard to believe – why it is called the Good News

2.     What does this mean for my life? (WIIFM): Resurrection Life

·         Jesus promised that believers would share His Resurrection life
·         The Easer Lectionary Readings from the Bible over the next few weeks will give us glimpses of Jesus going through locked doors, talking, being touched and eating with His Disciples
·         Jesus Resurrection body seems to be both material and immaterial – it is a mystery
·         I have talked to people who have seen visions of heaven
 and they all assure me you would not want to come back
·         I have seen my late daughter Mary standing in our kitchen

3.     “He will destroy the shroud that enfolds all people” – Isa. 25.7
·         Isaiah was one of the most respected Hebrew Prophets
·         He is the source of many messianic prophecies – such as the suffering servant
·         “He will remove His people’s disgrace from all the Earth”
·         Death was a disgrace because it was the end of human life – the end of a love relationship with God
·         Dead people cannot be a sign of the Glory of God
·         Dead people cannot offer praise to God

4.     God destroyed death by creating a new way to spiritual life
·         Problem was human rebellion and the pollution of sin
·         God is holy and cannot have the unholy in His presence
·         Satan was always able to deceive people, tempt them into sin and then accuse them before the Throne of God as unholy
·         Satan’s power was broken by the love of Jesus in paying the price for human sin – created an infinite forgiveness bank
·         The Passion (movie) follows a drop of Jesus blood falling to the ground and goes underground to show Satan cowering in rage
·         This is the Good News of eternal spiritual life
·         When we face Judgement we have Jesus covering our sins
·         Promise of John 3.16 – all who believe in Jesus

5.     The Eucharist is the Great Celebration of our new life in Christ
·         We are reminded of what Jesus taught and did
·         We are led through a Confession and Absolution
·         Receive forgiveness of sins and strengthening
·         Pray “Unite us to your Son in His sacrifice, that we, made acceptable in Him, may be sanctified by the Holy Spirit.”

It is true, He is Risen - and we will live with Him forever

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