We serve a risen Saviour who has set us free from sin and given us eternal life with God - and He is in the world today! That is really the main point of the Easter message - and it is the Good News of salvation. Too often, when we think of Jesus rising from death, we think of Him going to Heaven - and we usually think of Heaven as some place far away. It would be better if we would think of Jesus going to be with God. And God is still at work in our world and in our lives - and so is Jesus. That is Good News!
Paul tells us that Jesus appeared many times, to various people and that much later He appeared to Paul and changed His life. Paul was telling us that the Jesus, who once lived among us as a man and did saving works among us, is still living among us, still doing those same saving works, wherever God is - and God is everywhere.
“Am I a God near at hand,” says the Lord, “And not a God afar off? Can anyone hide himself in secret places, so I shall not see him? says the Lord.” Jer 23:23-24
God is with us today; He is in our world reaching out all the time. Let us share the message and hope of Easter.
1. Jesus came to show us God’s love and to be God with us. God still loves us. God is still with us
The story of the birth of Christ shows us that the eternal God who created all things cares enough for us to act in a costly way for our salvation. Jesus came to be “God with us”. God shows us His great love for us in that He was willing even to experience death on a Cross for us. God is still loving us. God is still with us. When we feel worthless and unworthy, we can know that there is someone who loves us - and it is the One who counts. You have a new identity, you are a beloved child of God. And when you feel that you have been rejected or beaten, or when you are up against some challenge that is too big for you, you can know that you are not alone. There is someone who is there with you.
2. Jesus came making people whole, and He still does
Jesus reached out to people and related to each of them in ways appropriate to their own need to make them whole. He healed some who were suffering injuries, spiritual and physical sicknesses and made them whole. He also forgave the guilty, humbled the arrogant, encouraged those who had been beaten down and caused those who had messed up their lives to look for a better way to put life together.
He did what was needed to help people come to full and meaningful lives. We all have to cope with bad experiences that break and oppress us. However, there are always other experiences in our lives that heal and encourage and forgive and affirm us. Christ is there in those experiences. And He works through the Church to help people find their way to wholeness.
3. Jesus came offering a new possibility to people and to all humankind
Jesus came preaching the Good News that “the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand” and calling people to be ready to change and to be receptive to it. That new possibility is still a possibility for us today. When our lives are not what we want them to be, when we realise that all of the things our culture has told us about how to build a good life were wrong, when things start falling apart for us, there is another possibility.
We can start over and put our lives together in the way that Jesus taught us to, building upon God’s love and God’s promise, committed to God’s purpose for us and for our world. That new possibility will work. We will be surprised to find that it leads us into a truly good and happy life in this world and that it puts us in touch with a source of hope for eternity. That is possible for us because He’s in the world today.
4. Jesus came to reach out to people, and He still does through the Church
The risen Christ is alive and at work in many ways in every aspect of life in this world, but He is especially present and at work through the Church. Many people have lost confidence in what they call ‘organised religion’. It is true that many disappointing things have happened in the Church and the name of God to cause that. But the vast majority of people in the Church are still honestly committed to the work of God. They function as the Body of Christ in the world. Through them, Christ works to reach out in love, to help, to heal, to show the way to a new possibility. Not only in the Church - but certainly in the Church - we see that Jesus is in the world today.
5. Jesus came offering hope for the whole world - and He still does
We can look around and see our world falling apart because of the loss of human values and morality, exploitation, corruption and injustice causing famine, oppression, wars and every kind of human suffering. When these things make our hearts ache, we can know that there is hope for our world. God is still at work in our world trying to teach the world to love just as He was in Jesus.
Jesus called people to follow Him and participate in the work He was doing. You may find yourself being called to become a part of the hope of the world. Ask yourself, is there something you should be doing? Is there someone you should tell about the Good News of God’s salvation plan? Is there something you should be doing to build a better world? Jesus called people to follow Him. He may be calling you to represent Him in the world today.
6. Jesus came to give us eternal life one day and to give us new life on earth today
It is interesting how Paul told the Resurrection story to the Christians at Corinth. He first remembered the facts that Jesus had died for our sins and was buried and on the third day He was raised. He recalls the times when the risen Christ appeared to others. Then he remembers that the risen Christ appeared to him and changed his life and made him a servant of the way he had once persecuted.
Finally, he reminds the Corinthians that it is their faith in the Resurrection that has brought them to fullness of life. They were now representing the risen Christ. Jesus came to give us eternal life, but also to give us new life on earth today. “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” John 10:10b.