Updated: Jan 31, 2021
Alleluia, Christ the Lord is risen!
(The Lord has risen indeed!)
I want to welcome all the people who have been away from a physical church so long, as well as all those who regularly gather each Sunday. It is wonderful to have everyone come in celebration that Christ arose from his tomb, almost two thousand years ago.
We represent the current state of a New Covenant that began when a dead man arose after being dead for three days, and then coming out of a tomb.
We are the present state, but the future state of Christianity depends on the faith of those today. It does not depend on the faith of those before us.
This is why Easter Sunday is so important. It is when we KNOW this past event occurred, because it has been repeated many times since … in remembrance … up to this point of our remembrance now.
We would not feel the call to be here, in this church or in some other Christian church service, somewhere on Easter Sunday, if we did not believe Jesus arose from the dead.
The true importance of Easter Sunday is that we celebrate the time when Jesus was reborn within each one of us, and within every believer in Jesus Christ. We FEEL the rebirth in us today.
Without that step being taken, of personally FEELING the importance of that Resurrection, nothing changes.
As human beings, we are born of sin. That is not a judgment. That is what all religions teaching of only One God say. As believers of one of those religions, we recognize that every one of us is flawed, impure, defiled … a sinner … just because we are human.
We pray to God to forgive us each Sunday. Our faith has us say publicly and collectively, “We humbly repent.” All the sins us sinners are prone to do are recognized as having happened by that confession.
We are forgiven, for asking God to wash us clean; but, for that loving act of kindness, in return we are not to remain sinners.
We are supposed to die as sinners and be reborn with the mind of Christ. We are each supposed to have ourselves come back to life as one who no longer sins … for the rest of our mortal life. We are, each of us individually and all of us collectively, are to be Resurrected.
This is why the Apostle Paul wrote to the Colossians, saying, “If you have been raised with Christ, seek things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.”
If Easter Sunday means that Christ has risen within you, then seek things that are above.
Do you remember Lent? For those of you who have been absent lately, that season just passed.
That was practice time. Lent is the time to seek one sin that you can master, and not let it master you. By proving yourself for forty days, you raise yourself to a position that allows Jesus to raise you, like he did Lazarus. Lent is the basic training requirement for receiving the spirit to do what it takes next … to fully sacrifice yourself, your being, your life as a sinner.
Paul went on to say, “Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth, for you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.”
You have died in the sense that your mind is no longer on sin. You have ended that human brain-led existence, replacing it with the mind of Christ. The life you once knew is over. It has become hidden with Christ in God. Your ego just stepped out of the way, and Jesus was reborn into you, because your sins have been hidden in forgiveness.
Finally, Paul wrote, “When Christ who is your life is revealed, then you also will be revealed with him in glory.”
You will be revealed with him in glory. You will be Jesus at all his best. Jesus will be with you … as you … and you with him. You will stop being a failed sinner. Your glory will be through providing the new bodily home for the risen Jesus … your being.
Paul knew this, because Paul was that. He was speaking from personal experience. He was not making that stuff up.
Saying you believe in Jesus Christ is just so much talk, if the truth is that you are never going to walk the walk. You have to own the personal experience that is forever lasting.
In the Gospel reading today, we read how Peter went into the empty tomb, and John followed a little later. John wrote that “he saw and believed.” Likewise, we read the words of John, and through those words our mind’s eye lets us see what John saw. And, like John, we too see and believe.
John then continued, writing, “As yet they did not understand the scripture, that he must rise from the dead.” They believed that prophecy that had previously made no sense to them. Jesus had risen from the dead, because he was not in the tomb in which they placed his lifeless body, having sealed that tomb with a stone. They saw with their own eyes that Jesus was gone from that tomb. He must be raised from the dead, because his linen wrappings were left behind.
BUT … they did not understand the scripture, although they saw it had been fulfilled. Likewise, Christians do not understand the scripture, if you do not see how believing Jesus rose from the dead has to become YOU dying and then rising as Jesus.
John said he and Peter went back to their homes. He said, “Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord.” In Matthew’s Gospel, he said Jesus told Mary, “Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”
Jesus had risen, but the story was not over. The disciples were next. They would have Jesus rise in them, after they died and were reborn as Apostles of Christ.
Peter wrote, “Jesus commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one ordained by God as judge of the living and the dead.”
Jesus is the judge of who will be alive with Christ within. Jesus is the judge of who will die to become the risen Jesus. We have to raise our arm and wave, crying out, “Choose me!”
You do not just say, “I read it and I believe.” Jesus has to take over the controls to your thoughts and deeds, for you to truly believe AND understand the scripture. For that, you have to be dead.
Zombies are quite the craze now.
A zombie symbolizes anyone who has his mind set on earthly things. They walk around in a daze, looking for another part of their bodies to be sold to Satan, for one more taste of the good life. A zombie is driven to not see anything but what it lusts after.
In the movies and television shows about zombies, they never show them walking deadly towards a new smart phone. They are never seen terrorizing the innocent for a fat bonus at work. They are never shown driving fancy cars, as they claim ownership of every road they travel.
Zombies are only shown figuratively, as dead bodies mindlessly looking for their next meal. Then …
Plop. There falls an eye. Doesn’t matter. Without a Christ mind, you have eyes that cannot see. Death goes on, then …
Plop. There falls an ear. Doesn’t matter. Without Jesus reborn within you, you have ears that do not hear.
You see, zombies are dead, but they just won’t die.
They have souls that cannot go to Heaven, because they have been sold for earthly things. Their souls were sold for sins.
Peter said, “All the prophets testify about Jesus, saying that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”
Using the zombie analogy, zombie sins are forgiven by zombies changing their names to Jesus. Still, there is more to that than just walking around with a “Jesus” name tag on, and body parts still falling off.
You have to be committed to never sinning again. You can only do that by saying, “Goodbye” to your earth-centered zombie brain. You have to let the mind of Christ lead you, forever on.
If you have ever watched a zombie movie, it is vividly clear how you get one to die … you blow its brain out.
The difference for us is that zombies are not real. Real brains need not get shot by rifles. Real bodies do not necessarily need to be hanged from a tree, or nailed to a cross to die.
Figurative death comes by sacrificing our worldly-lusting brains for a mind that only looks for Heaven. We fear the Lord’s judgment, banishment from Heaven, so we are afraid to sin. That is how one truly becomes Christian, beyond being a disciple of the risen Jesus.
Think about being asked by God, “Are you ready to stop sinning?”
Everyone one of us here today would probably, immediately say, “Yes sir!”
But if God then placed us in a Roman arena, amid a few underfed lions, ones sounding upset at us being there, to hear God saying, “That’s the spirit. I knew you had it in you.” …
How many of us pretenders would be screaming out, “Mr. Wizard!,” in order to be taken back to our sinful little lives, not really ready to stop thinking about worldly things? We are not ready to die for Jesus!
It is not as easy as we think.
It is not simply a matter of faith.
How many of us come to Bible study here, or spend a few hours each week doing home study? How much work is that?
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if all we needed to do to get a Law degree or a Medical degree or to become a big-time music star or movie star was to just believe in lawyers, doctors, singers, and actors? What would you be if it were that easy?
<waving hands apart overhead> Poof! The magic wand is waved over you and you are what you want to be, just by believing.
If that doesn’t work, then you might need to buy some ruby red slippers and click your heels three times, but still … that’s not too much to ask, is it?
As Peter and John went home, and as the disciples went to Galilee to meet the risen Jesus, they had believed in Jesus for three years, but they were not ready to become Jesus.
They needed more training.
They needed to take this forgiven of sins stuff seriously.
They had to make an effort to learn how to sacrifice themselves, how to stop desiring things on the worldly plane, and how to receive the spirit of Christ.
They needed forty days of intensive training with the risen Jesus, so he could then ascend and take his seat at the right hand of God.
From above, Jesus could send the Lord’s Holy Spirit to those whose minds were only on things above. To receive the Holy Spirit, the old disciples had to die. They had to be reborn as Jesus … times twelve.
Before, they believed but they did not yet understand one scripture. After the Ascension, they understood ALL the scriptures … more than could ever be written in any books. A brain cannot reach that level of understanding … without it being ignited from within, by the Mind of Christ.
There is plenty of Jesus to go around. Who will be willing to die for that?