The Easter story is about being sure of the Resurrection and meeting the risen Jesus. This is the point where Jesus becomes a real person to a believer. This is the point where each of us goes from being what we might call a “cultural Christian” to a 'serious believer'. Everyone who meets the risen Jesus is changed - even transformed. Their faith goes from being a philosophy of life to being a daily personal relationship with the risen Jesus. They go from a set of intellectual beliefs to “my Faith” and my hope for the future. For many people this is a dramatic encounter like that of Mary. For others it may be more gradual. The important thing is to personally meet the risen Jesus.
1. The Risen Jesus gives us resurrection life
This is the good news of Easter. God intervened in history to raise Jesus to bodily life. There is lots of evidence - these stories are confused and hence authentic eye witness accounts. The body of Jesus was never found. You can be sure the people who wanted Him dead made a careful search for the body. The good news of the Resurrection is essential to Christianity. If, as some more liberal authors argue, Jesus only appeared in the minds of distraught Christians, we are all in trouble.
- Good News is that Jesus did rise from the dead and the Resurrection deniers are the ones who are in trouble
- One of the best ways to “test the spirits” - A spirit that is not from God will not be able to say that Jesus rose and is alive.
- Resurrection gives us the hope of eternal spiritual life and motivates us to examine our lives and die to our life-destroying beliefs and habits.
- “if we have died with Him, we shall be raised with Him”.
- Jesus resurrection life had a body that could be both material (eating, touch) and at other times immaterial (go through locked doors, suddenly appear)
- Lucille and I have had visions of the bodies of people and angels in heaven so we know for sure this is a real place of joy
2. The Risen Jesus gives us a new relationship
It is this very real experience of meeting the risen Jesus that moves us beyond philosophy and religion to a powerful personal relationship. Unfortunately, we rarely talk about this in Anglican churches. We think it is too emotional. But, guess what, it is an emotional relationship that we need.
· We all need to know that we are not alone.
· I have gotten to know Jesus personally first of all by re-reading the whole Bible and through charismatic prayer experiences
· I have felt Jesus with me in prayer ministry as the Holy Spirit flowed over someone being forgiven or healed.
· I have had a vision where I sat with Him and walked with Him.
· I have heard His voice in my ear telling me to “stop whining and get up” as He is giving me exactly what I need to do His will.
· Lucille and I have seen Him taking care of us in the midst of great emotional and financial challenges. We know we are not alone.
3. The risen Jesus gives us peace
People who have not yet met the risen Jesus cannot be sure they are in a right relationship. They tend to operate out of a base of fear. They do not have a sense of peace. The good news of Easter is that “Jesus died so that God could forgive us, take away our sense of guilt and shame and give us peace".
- This is the ‘one thing’ that unhappy and fearful people need to hear.
- This is the ‘one thing’ that you need to say to the person in crisis in the next seat to you on the bus or airplane.
- When we are in a crisis we are desperate enough to cry out to the Risen Jesus.
- My divorce was the crisis that got me into daily Bible reading and prayer which led to charismatic experiences of the Risen Jesus, the Holy Spirit, peace with God and spiritual life of joy
The challenge of Easter is to seek and meet the risen Jesus
This is how we will discover, heal and develop our spiritual life. At some point we become desperate enough or disgusted enough to die to our old self and take the risk of really getting to know the risen Jesus. Many people discover the risen Jesus during the Alpha Course or on a Cursillo weekend. We can all do this through daily Bible reading, prayers and in the Eucharist..
If we have died with Him we shall be raised with Him.
The key word is “with”.