In Him We Live

Alleluia! Christ is risen!

Can it be true?  God is in your face with a fact today: Jesus Christ has dealt with your sin and death with His death and He broke it and He triumphed and death and hell have no claim on you.  IN HIM WE LIVE.

Can it be true? Well, if it’s true, then it’s time to tell this bully named death that we’re not falling for it anymore; like most bullies, he’s not so tough.

The ladies fell for it at first; well, so did the disciples.  At least the ladies had the guts to go the cemetery, but they went doom and gloom to the tomb as if they were going to the funeral of Jesus.  Death got him.  Death wins. 

I thought He said He’d be with us, I thought He was the one, it seemed like God was really doing something, something new, freeing us.   I know He cared about us, I know He did.  It just turned out badly – it’s like it spun out of His control.  He’s dead and gone.  Death got him. That’s how it always turns out – we should have known better. 

Somehow death gets a grip on you and the crazy thing is you get a grip on it.  You grab it, and you think about it, and you fear it, and you can see it there in your hand and you’d like to let go of it, but it’s like you’re paralyzed, you can’t let go.  

St. Paul says that the sting of death is sin and the power of sin is the law.  Death throws the law in our face and says see: sin – you’re a sinner, a law-breaker.  Then the big, bad bully tries this: I’ve taken down a lot better people than you – everyone bows to me eventually.  Billions of dollars of research are trying to stop me.  I laugh.  And I’ll get you too.  And we’re fully aware that we are dying.  Okay, so maybe he is really tough, huh?

What are we going to say to Him today, Easter day?  Let’s start with conceding the point: okay, ya big, tough, bully, death, you’re tougher than us. 

And now let’s get down to business.  Here’s the deal death, we believe that God made us to live and to live with Him.  That’s at the core of how we see everything – created by God for life with God and one another – good life.

And we understand that we have messed that life up, that we are sinful down to the core, law breakers, not because you say so, but because our Maker does and we feel it in every bit of the curse from a cavity in our teeth to words we regret saying to nuclear weapons to the fact that we’re gonna need a casket someday.  Sin is real and the pain and sadness and death are real.  We have messed it up.

But this did not stop our Maker.  He’s always had life in mind for us. He would not leave us in the mess for dead.  And down came the Redeemer to our flesh.  To stop the law’s demands on us and reclaim us for life with God, Jesus would have to die and remove our sin.  So He did it.    He lifted up our sin and put it on His shoulders and it got messy.  You know, death, you were there.  You had your day.  You stung Him.  You dumped out every last drop of venomous poison you had on Him.  It turns out God was ripping the stinger right out of you, putting you to death.  Today is your funeral, death. 

So there was Jesus, a lifeless body.  But death, come over and take a look.  Watch when the ladies get to the tomb.  The big stone is already rolled away and He’s not in there!  And there are these angels  – all in white.  I imagine them looking serious at first. They start so matter of factly: why do you look for the living among the dead?  Take a look around.  These angels have just come from the King and He has a fact for them to face (And I bet they had some kind of smile on those angel faces): He isn’t here; He is risen.  

Where, O death, is your victory this morning?  It’s certainly not at the tomb of Jesus.  Before the sun came up the Son of God took a breath and woke up and got up and broke up death and damnation and restored everlasting life.  

Where is your victory, O death?  The tomb is empty.  Jesus Christ lives. You’re done.  We laugh at you.

This is the day the Lord has made.  The day when a man who was dead came back.  I would think He’d have my sins with Him when He came back.  But He doesn’t.  The big book with my sins listed in it is like the tomb now – Tyler, we have no record of you ever committing any sins.  Can you check it again?  Yes, but it says spotless.  Are you sure?  Look – and I see that the pages have been stained all red with blood.  And they tell me, we did find a record of you over here – in this book of life.  

Now death, did you hear that?  You taunt us, you bully us, you say you have a claim on us and you are tougher than us.  But we’re not falling for it.  Because we’re not the ones fighting you.  Thanks be to God – we have already been given the victory.  Your grip on us is gone.

Can it be true? But what about this?  What about Shirley and Lottie and Delores and Ruth and Jackie and Jace and Lynn and Dan and Charles and Bernice and Leo and Candy and Lynn and Lois and Adeline and LaVerla and Norma and Marles and Robert and Dennis and Don and Dennis and Dorothy and Melvin and Mason and Karen?  What about all those funerals?  

You call it the funeral list, death.  My Jesus calls that roll call in heaven.  He says it time for life to really begin for them. To die is gain.

So even through our tears, we praise our God for the victory He’s given them.  Graves don’t bury our hope – we bury our dead in hope, in Christ, like seeds that are just waiting to spring to life when in a flash, the twinkling of an eye, a trumpet will sound and they’ll be living like God meant them to live.

And even as we are dying, we have the breath of God breathed in us, we have the victory in hand, we’re going to heaven.  So don’t get used to your tears and pain, okay?  Cry out to God with it, but always remember that because Jesus lives there is hope and it all has an end.  What time cannot heal, eternity will.

Humanity was made to live with God and one another in joy forever. 

This is the day that the Lord has made.  The day that our fear of God and fear of death ends.  God has rescued us for Himself and death is His slavemaster – it works on His timetable and it’s a powerless little thing in His hand that He uses to bring us to Himself.

This is not a normal day.  This is Easter.  This is the day that a real life dead man rose because we were meant to live with God.

This is the day that you get your grip on grace – it’s all done.  God loves you.  And you don’t owe Him a thing.

This is the day you listen to Job instead of death: I know that my Redeemer lives and even my body will rise because Jesus Christ rose.

The joy of Easter is not simply happiness – it is a complete change of status before God.

We were on our own, now we’re God’s own.  We were dying, now living.  We are not looking for righteousness, we are drenched in it.  We were sin, but now my friends, you are holy, you are in Christ.  The record is spotless. Because thanks be to God – He gives us the victory.

God is in your face with a fact today. you with a fact today: Jesus Christ has dealt with your sin and death with His death and He broke it and He triumphed and death and hell have no claim on you. 

You know what you could do with that?  You could home and live today and tomorrow and the next day like Jesus lives, Jesus wins, Jesus loves you and you love Him.    

Can it be true? Oh, stake your heart on it, get a grip on it and risk everything on it. The tomb is empty. He is not there; He is risen.  He is now here.  This is so good.

Can it be true?  He is Truth.  He is Life.  And He is alive.  And IN HIM, WE LIVE.

Alleluia! Christ is risen!  

Tyler Peil

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