EASTER SUNDAY - April 12, 2020.
TOPIC: HE IS RISEN
TEXTS: Lk 24:1-10; Jn 20:10-18; Hag.2:6-7; Heb.12:26-27
1.1 Today in Christendom is Easter Sunday; the day that commemorates the greatest event in human history: The Day that Jesus Christ defeated Satan and his cohorts and arose from the dead, to die no more. A few days ago(Good Friday),was a memorial of his crucifixion; the day he died like a common criminal (between two other criminals), so that we, who in the Supreme Court of Heaven had already been condemned to eternity in hell, may be ransomed. He took our place and died for us(Heb.2:9),defeated Satan for us(Col.2:15), arose from the dead and ascended into Heaven to assume the Ministry of intercession for us in the Court of Heaven(Heb.7:25 TLB).
1.2 What makes this Easter Sunday so memorable is because it's happening at a time when the whole world is quaking with events that describe the end times, preparatory to the Second coming of Christ (the 'Parousia'). The Lord Jesus had in response to questions about his second coming outlined series of events that must take place before his physical and personal return to the earth (Parousia). He said:
"For nation shall rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom; and there shall be famines and Pestilences and earthquakes in diverse places. All these are the beginning of sorrows"(Matt.24:6-8 KJV). Pestilences/ Plagues had happened in 1720,1820,1920(Influenza), but they hadn't been this sweeping, worldwide and intense.
1.3 The Prophet Haggai had prophesied that God will shake the Nations before the coming of the Messiah (Desire of All Nations) and stated clearly that the purpose of the shaking is to cause the Nations to "...turn to the Desire of all Nations (Hag.2:7 NKJV). That is to say, God intends by this pestilence (COVID 19), to engineer a revival that will cause the Nations to turn to the Lord. Hebrews 12:26-27 describes the same event and its effect on the Church. He will by the shaking, sift the church so that everything he didn't plant (shakeable) will drop off and only the permanent things he planted will remain. This is especially true since we are receiving a Kingdom that is unshakable. Only unshakable people are fit for an unshakable kingdom. By divine wisdom, the narrow gate to heaven is not designed to accommodate all the excess baggage we have acquired which are easily shakeable and so they must drop off, if we must enter. Corona virus appears to be an instructor assigned to ensure that this happens. Jesus labelled all these, " the beginning of sorrows ", which means that more are coming.
2.HE IS RISEN.
2.1 Luke records the adventure of the women who followed Jesus, in the garden tomb early that Sunday morning. They went to finish the unfinished business of embalming. And behold, contrary to all expectation, "they found the stone rolled away from the sepulchre"(Lk 24:2). Matthew reported that an 'earthquaking' angel came down from heaven and rolled away the stone, (Mtt 28:2), not to let Jesus out, but to let the women in. Jesus had left much earlier. No stone could hinder him. He had conquered Satan and overwhelmed death and was therefore unstoppable. He did all for us so that in life, we will become unstoppable too, indeed more than conquerors (Rom.8:37).
2.2 John added a very deep insight in his account, a detail not found in the synoptic gospels. John stated that when Mary couldn't find the body of Jesus, she stayed back weeping and, in her persistence, Jesus appeared unto her. He was still in the garden when the other women including Peter and John returned home. Jesus showed Himself to a persistent seeker. How persistent and determined are we in seeking Him. There's a guarantee that every persistent seeker at this 'lockdown' hour will find him. Mary swung around to touch him, when he called her name. "Rabboni" she screamed. Other disciples would call him, ‘Rabbi’(Teacher), but to Mary, he was something more; 'Rabboni'(Master). Is Jesus merely a Teacher to be listened to or is he a Master to be obeyed?
2.3 "Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God and your God".(Jn 20:17). Jesus had an unfinished business at the Throne room in Heaven. His blood was yet to be splashed on the mercy seat. His High Priestly assignment of obtaining eternal redemption was yet to be completed(Aaronic High priests couldn't be touched on their way to the Holy of Holies).Even then, what He had accomplished has placed the disciples on the same pedestal as Himself. They had become children of the same Father. They had all acquired the Father's DNA as members of His family. As they were that first Easter Sunday, so are we. And so, we are no longer slaves to fear; we are God's children. None of the diseases of Egypt dare come near our dwelling including Corona Virus! The Passover has happened, and the angel of death has passed over us.
3.1 Going forward, we have a High Priest in the Throne room who doubles as our lawyer (Advocate). With Him on our side, we cannot lose any case in the face of Satanic accusations in Court of Heaven (Heb.7:25;1Jn.2:1). As we believe Him and daily live for Him in these exciting times, let us rest assured that we are under cover.
3.2 The signs awash everywhere are the signature signs of the Second Coming of Christ (Parousia). But there's an advance party of his coming (without signs), foreshadowed in Jewish wedding ceremonies (Mtt 25:1-13). A Herald, outside the city gate would announce the arrival of the Bridegroom. All whose lamps are burning would go out to meet him, and thereafter return with him for the festivities. Paul the Apostle caught this revelation and called this advance party, "Harpazo"(1 Thess. 4:13-18). Harpazo is a military term meaning snatching up/caught up. It's an evacuation to safety in the face of danger. Harpazo, in time, was translated by Latin scholars as "Rapere/Raptus" which is the generic root of the word, "Rapture".
3.3 Brethren, my eyes are on the skies whether in respect of Parousia or Harpazo. The challenge of Easter is to live as pilgrims, blood-bought and blood- washed, discerning the times so that whether it's Harpazo(sign less) or Parousia (signful), You are accounted worthy to be in the number.
LET US PRAY.