He is risen! He is risen indeed!
As a young believer in a small “country church”, I was puzzled by the way the people greeted each other my first Easter as a Christian.
The atmosphere was pregnant with a sense of excitement that went beyond the sugar high of children who had spent the morning feasting on chocolate, jelly beans and marshmallow peeps.
Families began to gather in their Easter finery. Ladies wrapped in bright colors wearing millinery that rivaled the splendor of spring flowers dressed by their Maker. Gentlemen in freshly pressed shirts adorned with new ties. Children wearing their new Easter outfits accessorized with chocolate mustaches.
Suddenly the air gave birth to shouts of “He is risen!” and the reply shot back “He is risen indeed!”
What was this strange ritual that was taking place before my newborn eyes?
For as long as anyone knows, perhaps as long as we have celebrated the resurrection, the Paschal or Easter greeting has been “Christ is risen!” And the reply that follows is “He is risen indeed!” This greeting, in a very simple way sums up the core of Christianity.
We quickly adopted the tradition and taught it to our children. It warms my heart to hear, my now adult children, greeting others in the same manner. But as I heard one of my teenage grandsons respond “He is risen indeed”, my heart was full.
I have to admit though, it seems like the greeting is on the decline. As we greeted others in recent years, some looked quizzically as if to say “What did she say?” Others said, “Yeah isn’t that cool?” But there were still a remnant who responded with excitement, almost a shout “He is risen indeed!”
Crucifixion and Resurrection
On Good Friday we remembered the crucifixion of Christ, and we all know the crucifixion is vital to our salvation. But, on Easter we celebrate His resurrection. In fact many call this day Resurrection Sunday.
Yes, when we say resurrection we really mean that Jesus was actually physically dead. He was in the grave Friday evening, all day Saturday, and even part of Sunday. He was actually physically raised from the dead – His body became alive again!
But, why is that so important that it becomes the focus of the holiest day of the church calendar?
Even though leaders of other religions have died none can boast that they had been raised from the dead! That is what makes Christianity distinctly different from any other religion.
Why is the Resurrection such a big deal?
- The resurrection is the proof that Christ’s sacrifice was enough.
- It provides the power for us to live a life of surrender
- It give assurance that we have access to the throne room of heaven.
The Resurrection means that we will also be raised from the dead.
But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep. For since by a man came death, by a man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive. – 1 Corinthians 15:20-22
Now the phrase “first fruits” means there will be second fruits. Jesus was first, but in Him we will all also be made alive. Jesus conquered sin, death, and the grave! We have nothing to fear! Death, the last great enemy is defeated.
“O DEATH, WHERE IS YOUR VICTORY? O DEATH, WHERE IS YOUR STING?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law; but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Corinthians 15:55-57
Since Christ was raised from the dead we know that
- He was sinless.
- His sacrifice was accepted.
- our sins are forgiven.
- there is no reason to fear death, we will be resurrected just as Christ was resurrected.
Some things to think about
This may sound like a change of subject, but stay with me. What is it that you are afraid of? What is it that worries you and keeps you awake at night?
If Jesus has given us victory over death, isn’t everything else we worry and fret over much less of a big deal?
On Resurrection Sunday worship and celebrate the risen Lord! Each day rest in the fact that even death is conquered, so everything else is going to be ok. Because He lives, we can face tomorrow!
The Light of the world overcame even the darkest dark of Good Friday – giving us Hope for whatever today and every day holds!
Next year when you are greeted with “He is risen” shout out loud and proud “He is risen indeed!”
Hallelujah! What a Savior!
- Matthew 28
- Mark 16
- Luke 24
- John 20, 21
- 1 Corinthians 15
- Romans 6
On Sunday Jesus rode into Jerusalem, not on the back of a powerful prancing white stallion, but on the embarrassingly humble and small back of a donkey. He came in to Jerusalem that day just as Zechariah promised almost 550 years earlier (Zechariah 9:9). That evening He returned to Bethany, probably to the home of Lazarus (John 12:1).
The next morning Jesus walked back into Jerusalem, back into the Temple area.
It is Monday of Holy Week.
Three years prior Jesus had opened His public ministry with a scene very similar to this one. (John 2:13–25) The business men of the Temple had encountered the angry Jesus. That day Jesus’ cry was “Stop making my Father’s house a place of business!” Now towards the end of His life He cleansed the Temple for the second time! This time it was recorded by Matthew, Mark and Luke.
Why drive out the business men?
Once again the temple is defiled by the “religious business” of the leaders. They had turned the court of the Gentiles into a place where foreign Jews could exchange money and purchase sacrifices. What had begun as a service of convenience for visiting Jews soon turned into a lucrative business. The dealers charged exorbitant prices and no one could compete with them or oppose them.
The exchanging of local currencies for money that could be used to pay the annual Temple tax had become quite a money making operation with the High Priest himself getting a percentage of the profit.
Animals for sacrifice were also sold in the Temple area. Animals used for sacrifices had to be free from any blemish or imperfection. And of course all of the animals sold in the Temple area were “guaranteed” to be acceptable by the priests for sacrifice. The priests of course received a percentage of the profits. Some of the lambs being sold were from the priest’s flocks, raised outside of Bethlehem.
The court of the Gentiles in the temple allowed the Gentiles (non-Jews) an opportunity to enter the temple area and learn from Israel about the true God. They were permitted to go in it but were forbidden to go any further than the outer court. The entire Temple area was considered holy, but it became increasingly more holy as one entered farther in east to west.
The presence of this “religious market” turned many Gentiles who may have been seeking, away from the witness of Israel. The court of the Gentiles was used for mercenary business, not missionary business.
And He said to them, “It is written, ‘MY HOUSE SHALL BE CALLED A HOUSE OF PRAYER’; but you are making it a ROBBERS’ DEN.” (Matthew 21:13)
By calling the temple My house, Jesus was affirming that He is God.
Jesus is quoting Isaiah 56:7 where God declares that one day gentiles will come and worship with joy and prayer at the temple. Actually it was part of a long sermon that Jeremiah delivered in the gate of the temple, rebuking the people for the same sins that Jesus saw and judged that day.
Jesus called the temple a den of robbers because the place where robbers hide is called a den. The religious leaders, and some of the people, were using the temple and the “Jewish religion” to cover up their sins.
Ironically the only place the gentiles were allowed to pray and worship in Jesus’ day was the outer court where buying and selling had taken over.
One has to wonder how many gentiles seeking after the true God were turned away by the noise, and the greed at the edge of the temple.
What does God want in His house?
• Prayer among His people (1 Tim. 2:1ff).
Real prayer is an evidence of our dependence on God and our faith in His Word.
• People being helped (Matt. 21:14).
The needy should feel welcome and should find the kind of help they need.
• Power in God’s house
The power of God working to bring new life and to change people into the image of His Son!
• Praise is another feature of God’s house (Matt. 21:15–16). Here Jesus quotes Psalm 8:2
Something to think about
- What about us today? If Jesus were walking around our churches what are we doing that would offend Him because it is driving away people who are seeking Him?
- What about you? As a believer your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 3:16-17). What activity is going on in your life that may be keeping others from getting to know Jesus?
Readings for Monday of Holy Week
- Matthew 21:12-16
- Mark 11:15-18
- Luke 19:45-48
- Isaiah 56:1-8
It is my prayer that as we focus on the events leading up to the cross that you can fully grasp the magnitude of sin and its consequences in order to fully understand the light and hope of Sunday morning!
I would love to start a conversation of what God shows you as a result of taking this journey with us this week! You can do that by writing in the comment box!
In just under two weeks we will be celebrating Easter and I am so excited, it is my favorite holiday! Not only is it my personal favorite but also it is the most important event on the Christian calendar!
For the past several years in my prayer time at the end of December, God has given me a specific word for the upcoming year. It has been interesting to see how significant that word was throughout the year. This year God gave me the word “NEW” and, with that He gave me a glimpse of what some of those new things would be.
- New Year – this one seems obvious but only on the surface. I knew we were beginning a new year but I have yet to see all that is hidden beneath the surface.
- New jobs – we are still with Precept Ministries International. However, as of the beginning of the year we are now on the Social Media Team in the Marketing Department. You got it, all things are new as we learn all about Facebook, Twitter and other social media forums.
- New blog – new look, new posts and hopefully new followers. Unfortunately it has taken me 4 months to roll it out, but here and it is new to you!
- New milestones – anniversaries, stages of life, new life etc.