Wednesday 7th Jun 2023Lighthouse

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“After the sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. And suddenly there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord, descending from heaven, came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. For fear of him the guards shook and became like dead men. But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid; I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for he has been raised, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples, ‘He has been raised from the dead, and indeed he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him.’ This is my message for you.””

Matthew 28:1-7 NRSV




Easter Day is not just the "happy conclusion" to the grim tale of Good Friday. It is Resurrection Sunday, it is the first day of the week and the first day of something new.


There is excitement today. Something new begins with Easter. With Jesus' death, the powers of corruption and decay were defeated, with the resurrection even death itself is defeated paving the way for the start of the new creation.


Could it be that when we view resurrection with our Western church mindset, which we have long held, we try to contain the story of the resurrection into our view of life after death, as a binary choice of either heaven or hell? The meaning of resurrection means so much more than life after death, it means that there is life now and life forevermore in the new creation. 


My question this morning is what does the resurrection mean to us today as followers of Christ? 


In John's account of the resurrection we see how that plays out, he states that Jesus comforts Mary and wipes away her tears, challenges Thomas and liberates his doubts, and confronts Simon Peter and grants him a new commission. 


We live in a world that has corrupted all good things, we call evil good and good evil. Things have become twisted from the original creation. The ones who were meant to rule in the beginning became corrupted and the world along with it. 


We have to be confronted and challenged that we are part of the problem, it is evil around us but it is also evil within us. It's necessary therefore to repent and accept Christ as Lord. 


Second, we have to reject the corruption of this world. Jesus comforts us that while we are in the world we are not of the world. Indeed, while we are in the world, Christ has work for us to do, to stay the corruption around us and bring his kingdom and his will to be done on earth as it is in heaven.


We are not to be lovers of this world, no longer compromised by the world of sin. Love for the things of the world causes us to comprise. John warns us 


“Do not love the world or the things in the world. The love of the Father is not in those who love the world; for all that is in the world—the desire of the flesh, the desire of the eyes, the pride in riches—comes not from the Father but from the world. And the world and its desire are passing away, but those who do the will of God live forever.”

1 John 2:15-17 NRSV


Have we been confronted, comforted and commissioned?


Confronted by the fact that without the resurrection we are dead in our sins and trespasses, lost and without hope in our unbelief. Confronted that we are corrupted by sin and we live in a sinful world. Yet we died to that old life when he died for us and we have escaped the corruption of the world.


Peter writes this 


“His divine power has given us everything needed for life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Thus he has given us, through these things, his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may escape from the corruption that is in the world because of lust, and may become participants of the divine nature.”

2 Peter 1:3-4 NRSV


Comforted in the sense that we have been made right with God. 


Because he lives we can face tomorrow. 


Jesus wipes the tears from those disciples and breathes into them his Holy Spirit.


Commissioned, Jesus Christ's resurrection goes hand in hand with his commission. Christ tells his disciples before his ascension that they shall receive the power to be his witnesses. Christ has made us his ambassadors and given us his message of reconciliation.


This weekend we remember events that changed everything. When God made all things new. 


Good Friday tells us the story that Jesus died, like the Passover lamb that was slain for the world. John the Baptist spoke of Christ as the lamb of God, the spotless lamb and those who follow him, put their faith in him and repent from their evil ways will find forgiveness or removal of all their sin. 


When it comes to the idea of resurrection many Jews at that time expected a kingdom where God rules with his messiah or Christ. They expected an end-of-the-age resurrection where all would be restored and God would rule as King.  This is very different to the view of some of us living in heaven for eternity. Jesus tells those disciples something different it's not just at the end of the age when all the dead will rise, he tells them He is the embodiment of the resurrection life both here and now and for all eternity. 


Jesus Christ tells of a new embodied life in a recently reconstituted creation. And we see Jesus' resurrection as the beginning of nothing less than the new creation itself, rather than the 'happy ending' to the crucifixion.


Making all things new 


John wrote what he saw in the Book of Revelation chapter 21.


“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “See, the home of God is among mortals. He will dwell with them as their God; they will be his peoples, and God himself will be with them; he will wipe every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; mourning and crying and pain will be no more, for the first things have passed away.” And the one who was seated on the throne said, “See, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this, for these words are trustworthy and true.” Then he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give water as a gift from the spring of the water of life. Those who conquer will inherit these things, and I will be their God and they will be my children.”

Revelation 21:1-7 NRSV


John's works contain a vivid description of the new creation. The subject that demonstrates how for John, Jesus' resurrection marks the start of a new creation, is the "first day," 


In every one of the gospels, the resurrection of Christ is the climax which their stories are building towards. 


Matthew sees Jesus as the long-awaited messiah, bringing in the kingdom, 


John sees Jesus as the word of God becoming flesh and dwelling among us, finally, God has become flesh so that he may make his home with us. Initially on this earth and again on the renewed earth. 


In John's account of the resurrection we see how that plays out, he states that Jesus comforts Mary and wipes away her tears, challenges Thomas and liberates his doubts, and confronts Simon Peter and grants him a new commission. 


The term "resurrection" includes all of those things wiping away all tears, freeing us from doubts and giving us purpose.


For Mary and the other disciples, there is a message and a mandate given to them. Preach this message everywhere and then and only then will the end come. 


Resurrection wipes away tears brings something new, resurrection confronts comforts or challenges and then commissions and it's still doing that today. 


The resurrection changed everything and makes all things new. On the cross Jesus defeated sin and in the resurrection he defeated death. Leading us to the end of the age when all will rise in the new creation.


When we look at John's Revelation, we see this in its fullest expression at the end of the age, but it has already begun. It's worth noting that the final image depicted in the Bible is not of "saved souls" ascending to a "heaven" in the heavens, but rather the New Jerusalem descending from heaven to earth, bringing "the dwelling of God among humans."


John suggests that the first heaven and earth were corruptible and corrupted and that their corruptible condition has been put an end to when he says that they had "passed away" along with the sea.


The image of the sea is interesting from a fisherman's viewpoint. The sea could be a metaphor representing the dark, untamed source of evil in John's imagery; if the sea is gone, there is no possibility of evil and corruption reentering, creating a second terrible circle of sin and death that needs further redemption. No, the new thing is permanent. The fact that Jesus rose from the grave ensures it.


The statement, "Behold, I make all things new," was expected from the start. God hinted at this guarantee when Adam and Eve sinned, meted out punishment for sin, and promised the Messiah. (Genesis 3). 


The prophet Isaiah proclaims that only God is the source of salvation and that He alone will judge sin. He also predicts the creation of a new earth and heaven, saying, "See, I will create new heavens and a new earth. Things from the past won't be recalled. (Isaiah 65:17). 


For those who put their faith in God, this wicked, sinful world is not their final home, and we, like Paul, look forward to the day when God will "bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ." (Ephesians 1:10).


Paul who wrote this to the church in Corinth, which I believe encapsulates the resurrection perfectly.


“For the love of Christ urges us on, because we are convinced that one has died for all; therefore all have died. And he died for all so that those who live might live no longer for themselves, but for him who died and was raised for them. From now on, therefore, we regard no one from a human point of view; even though we once knew Christ from a human point of view, we know him no longer in that way. 


So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us. 


So we are ambassadors for Christ, since God is making his appeal through us; we entreat you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”

2 Corinthians 5:14-21 NRSV


Have we been confronted, have we been challenged? That we should no longer live for ourselves. Indeed we are dead to that old life and no longer living according the corruption of this world. 


Have we been comforted? we are a new creation. He was made to be sin for us, so we could become the righteousness of God. Yes, Jesus wipes away every tear, tears from sorrow that lead to repentance. 


Do we know that we have been commissioned as ambassadors of Christ bringing reconciliation? We will be those agents bringing in the kingdom of God here on earth?


Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins
as we forgive those who sin against us.
Lead us not into temptation
but deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power,
and the glory are yours
now and for ever.

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