If you are a regular church-goer, you will find yourself urged to utter this reply during most services, particularly at Easter. (The full quotation is: “Christ is Risen!” to which the congregation replies “He is Risen, indeed. Hallelujah!”) If you are not a regular church-goer, you may never have heard these words before. (Unless you have the unfortunate coincidence of being my friend on Facebook in which case, you have seen these words.) But what do the words mean?
Christ is risen! Simple as that, Christ is back from the dead. No, He’s not a zombie, no He’s not a ghost. He is real. Here. With us now.
And how can that be? He’s a 2000 year old man; that’s just full-on illogical.
When Jesus voluntarily died on the cross, being the only man in history who could possibly boast that He’d never done anything wrong (even as a child or teenager), His innocence and obedience allowed the full weight of man’s sin to rest upon His broken shoulders. You think about all the things you’ve managed to mess up in your life, then add on my faults, your brother’s failures, your partner’s screw-ups. What about your parents, your children, your friends, cousins, relatives. Now think about the sins of your ancestors, the people of the Old Testament, the Ancient Egyptians, the Romans, the Vikings, the Tudors, the Victorians, those who conquered and took over other people’s lands, Slave-traders, all of humanity’s sin. Now think about the sins of those who haven’t been born yet, the sins of the people who have yet to mess anything up but will do in the course of their life hundreds, possibly thousands of years in the future. Jesus voluntarily took it all on the cross and died from the weight of what we’d done.
But then He had access to Hell in a way the Son-of-God could never have had before He took on our sin. He battled Satan in a one-on-one fight. He didn’t have to, but He did. And when He beat Satan and took away his false claim to our souls, we were set free. And when Satan lay in the fires of Hell, defeated, Jesus was victorious. His spirit went back into His body and He breathed our air once again. He stayed with His disciples and met with many of them, eating with them, fishing with them, spending time among them. He wanted to spend time with the people He loved. We know that Jesus loved even the worst among society; the prostitutes, the lepers, the tax-collectors. And he wanted to spend time in their company. What kind of God wants to spend time with the lowest of the low?
Answer: My God.
God is kind and generous. He knows how we suffer, He has felt it through His son, Jesus. He is lovely, beautiful, glorious. Jesus spent 40 more days on Earth after He rose again. And then he ascended into Heaven upon the clouds.
So He is not dead.
50 days after Jesus ascended into Heaven and sat on His well-earned throne on the Right-hand of God, at the Jewish festival of Pentecost, the disciples experienced the Holy Spirit. In the book of Acts (Chapter 2 Verses 2-3) it is described as “…A sound from heaven, like the roaring of a mighty windstorm, and it filled the house where they were sitting. Then, what looked like flames or tongues of fire appeared and settled on each of them.” (NLT) When they experienced the Holy Spirit, which is the Helper Jesus promised them and God gave them, they were able to preach the Good News about Jesus Christ to all the surrounding people in all their different languages. Some people accused them of being drunk, but that’s simply because they didn’t understand what was happening. The Holy Spirit had never been experienced by mankind before.
And through Jesus’ death and resurrection, we too can experience the Holy Spirit; the Helper. He is wise and kind, He guides my footsteps and points me in the right direction. When I’m struggling to find a Bible passage that is even remotely helpful, the Holy Spirit leads me to a chapter of comfort. Whatever I’m feeling the Holy Spirit is my link to God. I can interact with Him and His power is evident in my life. Call me crazy, but believing in something that actually feels right and good and true finally gives my life meaning and purpose. I’m no longer striving to find inner peace; I have it through Jesus Christ. I don’t worry myself into depression or sickness because I know that God has a good plan for me. And even when I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, Christ’s perfect love is casting out fear. God is Christ, Christ is the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is God. We call it The Trinity. And my life’s work is to do My Lord’s will, since I know that if I tried to do my own work by my own will, it would fall to nothing. I don’t want to be insignificant. And with Christ, I’m not. Future generations won’t remember me. But my life is blessed and I know that no matter what happens to me or the memory of me, I have done what is pleasing to Him. And there can be no greater satisfaction in life than worshipping Him with the living sacrifice of my life. Voluntarily given. Just like Jesus.
‘If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.’ Romans 10:8
‘When you go through deep waters and great trouble, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown!…When you walk through fires of oppression, you will not be burned up – the flames will not consume you! For I am the Lord, your God and Saviour.’ Isaiah 43:2-3
©2016 Rachel Leathers