504 Java Profile

504 Java Profile
Two of my favorite things

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

On Easter

One of my volunteer ministry jobs (and one of the coolest in the world) is to be a volunteer sports chaplain. I do chapel for the New Orleans Zephyrs, the AAA baseball team here in New Orleans (Miami Marlins affiliate). During chapel on Easter Sunday, I asked the what and why of Easter as they saw it. We agreed that to understand Easter, we had to view it through the eyes of a first-century disciple.

We were in Matthew's version of the Easter events and three things emerged as the "you have to get this" list.

1. Jesus was really dead. The disciples thought He was dead. The women thought He was dead.The soldiers thought He was dead. Pilate thought He was dead. Pilate even sealed the tomb to guard against the possibility of the terrified disciples defying the Roman equivalent of Seal Team 6.  Everyone in that day knew that Jesus was really dead and 800 years earlier, Isaiah told us why He had to die

Isa 53:5-6
5 But He was pierced through for our transgressions,
He was crushed for our iniquities;
The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him,
And by His scourging we are healed.
6 All of us like sheep have gone astray,
Each of us has turned to his own way;
But the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all
To fall on Him.

2. Jesus really rose from the dead in the 1st century.  I tweeted on Sunday and Monday that those had to be really tough days for the Pharisees, Sadducees, and everyone else who was so invested in Jesus being dead. We look back and cite the Resurrection as fact because we have had 2000 years to get used to the idea. At the time, it was revolutionary. Immediately, folks began to deny it. The awkward fact that a body could not be produced, even though the Romans knew creative torture methods that could have compelled anyone who actually knew where the body was to produce it and the resurrection ruse would be over. Paul understood the importance of Jesus really being alive again.

1 Cor 15:12-18

12 Now if Christ is preached, that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, not even Christ has been raised; 14 and if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain. 15 Moreover we are even found to be false witnesses of God, because we witnessed against God that He raised Christ, whom He did not raise, if in fact the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised; 17 and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins.

3. Jesus is still alive. A couple of other people in Scripture had been raised from the dead back to life. Lazarus had been raised from the dead, but he died again later on. Richard Ross has been my hero for pointing out that Jesus is STILL ALIVE. I told the ballplayers that often our (my) problem is that I perceive Jesus as "was" instead of "is."  He isn't a historical figure, a gentle, well-groomed Caucasian walking around the Middle East being kind to children (Richard's words) when in reality, Jesus is. He is in heaven awaiting the Father's command to return. John's revelation view of Jesus is in the present tense.

Rev 19:11-16

11 And I saw heaven opened; and behold, a white horse, and He who sat upon it is called Faithful and True; and in righteousness He judges and wages war. 12 And His eyes are a flame of fire, and upon His head are many diadems; and He has a name written upon Him which no one knows except Himself. 13 And He is clothed with a robe dipped in blood; and His name is called The Word of God. 14 And the armies which are in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, were following Him on white horses. 15 And from His mouth comes a sharp sword, so that with it He may smite the nations; and He will rule them with a rod of iron; and He treads the wine press of the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty. 16 And on His robe and on His thigh He has a name written, "KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS." 

Jesus died so our sins could be forgiven. He really resurrected, showing the 1st century citizens and us that death has been defeated. He will come again and in the meantime, He is. He is interested in our everyday struggles, He is invested in all persons coming to Him in faith, He is a counselor, comforter, and friend. He is the One who hears our prayers and the one who cares about our struggles to be human and godly. 

1 Thess 4:14-18

14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus. 15 For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive, and remain until the coming of the Lord, shall not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet of God; and the dead in Christ shall rise first. 17 Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and thus we shall always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore comfort one another with these words. 

Comfort one another with these words. Jesus Is.