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Encounter the Risen Lord

I pray you had an amazing Easter weekend!  He’s alive!  Glory to God in Christ Jesus!  I don’t know about you, but I get utterly pumped up at Easter time.

We strive at West Main Baptist to help Easter surpass Christmas in the hearts of our people.  The Christmas season with its manger celebrating the incarnation of Jesus is undoubtedly special, but it’s eclipsed in the New Testament by the cross and empty tomb celebrating Jesus’ death and resurrection.  It’s at the cross of Calvary that Jesus paid for the sins of all who’ll believe on Him.  It’s through the empty tomb of Jesus’ resurrection that we have assurance His sacrifice was sufficient and see demonstrated what’s to come for us, namely victory over death and the grave unto life everlasting.  A lot of great people have died throughout history, but only one died vicariously and was raised to life again by the Father.  His name is Jesus!  May Easter be the climax of your holiday calendar!

Today we wind up our emphasis on building a toolbox against grief.  We’ve added to our toolbox the hope of resurrection, the comfort of God’s presence, and preparing to be God’s instrument of comfort.  Finally, we’ll add encountering the risen Jesus.

Have you personally come to know the resurrected Jesus?  I pray that you have.  You see, you and I and everybody else left to ourselves are in a serious situation.  We’ve sinned against the holy, sovereign God of the universe.  He requires obedience; we’ve given Him obstinance.  He deserves respect and honor; we’ve given Him rebellion and haughtiness.  We were born children of wrath (Eph. 2:3) and have actively stored up wrath for ourselves on the day of wrath (Rom. 2:5).  We’re guilty and eternally damnable.  There’s no way we ourselves can quench God’s wrath toward us.  Nor can we repay God the debt our sin has incurred.  In and of ourselves, we are hopeless.

But, friend, God did not leave us to ourselves.  Easter is proof of this truth.  He sent His only-begotten Son to take on flesh to live the perfect, sinless life we cannot live and to die the death we so surely deserve.  He lived and died in our place so that we would be made righteous before God.  And three days after Jesus’ life expired, the Father raised Him from the grave, bringing life back to His dead flesh.  And here’s the Good News:  if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved (Rom. 10:9).  God intervened in a major way so that all who believe on Christ will be saved, especially you, dear reader.

In our text, Mary Magdalene wasn’t looking for a resurrection.  She was grieved and then multiplied her grief by thinking the empty tomb was evidence that Jesus’ body had been stolen.  But then she encountered the risen Lord.  He wasn’t dead.  He wasn’t stolen.  HE WAS ALIVE AND STILL IS!  Suddenly her weeping and mourning turned into exceeding joy.  That’s the power of the risen Jesus! 

In the midst of your grief, I hope you encounter the sinless, crucified, resurrected Jesus.  More than you need that person or thing for which you are grieving, you need Jesus—His touch, His ministry.  Paul said, “He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?” (Rom. 8:32).  He’s saved your soul.  He’ll certainly dry your tears, heal your heart, and exchange your mourning for the oil of gladness.  He’ll be a tender minister to you with resurrection power.

May you add encountering the risen Jesus to your toolbox against grief.

-This article first appeared in the April 20 edition of the Baptist and Reflector, the official newspaper of the Tennessee Baptist Convention, as a commentary on the April 24, 2011 LifeWay Sunday School curriculum Bible Studies for Life, and can be accessed through the B&R website at http://www.tnbaptist.org/BRARticle.asp?ID=3793.  The article has been slightly edited here for westmainbaptist.com.

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