A Message from the Pastor
St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Dizzy Dean predicted at the start of the season that his 1934 Cardinals would win the pennant. “It ain’t braggin’ if you can do it,” he said. As history records it, they did it.
Three times Jesus predicted His death and resurrection. It ain’t braggin’ if you can do it. He did it. He rose from the dead. And the word from the tomb on that first Easter was this: “He is not here, but has risen. Remember how He told you.” The Word of Jesus is vindicated. He is proven true. His Word is proven reliable. This is the linchpin of our faith, that He “was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification” (Romans 4:25).
To the skeptical Greeks of Corinth, who were perfectly comfortable with an immortal soul but skeptical of a resurrection body, Paul wrote that magnificent fifteenth chapter of 1 Corinthians which begins this way: “For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then He appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, He appeared also to me.”
Paul goes on to flesh out what the implications are if Christ is not raised from dead. If Christ is not raised, then Paul’s preaching and the preaching you hear from me weekly is just a lot of hot air and wasted words. If Christ is not raised, then your faith is empty too. Your believing is for nothing; there is no point. If Christ is not raised, then Paul’s witness and all the eyewitnesses—all 500 plus—are liars in the name of God who have perpetrated the biggest hoax ever pulled in the religious world. If Christ is not raised, then your trust in Him is futile and misplaced, and worse, you are still in your sins. If Christ is not raised, then all the dead who have gone before us are lost and there is no hope of ever seeing them again and Easter has lost all meaning.
If Christ had not risen…but he has!
This word may seem like nonsense to you, to all of us who are skeptical and scientific people but these people who testified did so with their lives. They could have saved themselves quite easily by simply denying that Jesus had risen. They could have saved their lives by taking the authorities to the body. The Romans and the religious authorities of Israel could have put down this Jesus movement in a heartbeat by parading a rotting corpse through the street. But they did not, because there was no corpse. Jesus was risen, just as He had said.
Christ has risen. His Word is vindicated. The apostolic Word is vindicated. The ministry of the Word and the Church gathered around His Word is vindicated. Your faith in Christ is vindicated. You can be as confident of your resurrection as Jesus is risen from the dead and lives and reigns to all eternity. Our preaching is not in vain. Your faith is not in vain. Your sins are forgiven. There is hope in this life, hope in your death, hope for eternal life with God, hope for a new creation. And it all hangs on this little sentence: He is risen.
I can hardly wait to sing my favorite Easter hymn #457 “Jesus Christ Is Risen Today” to start our worship services that morning and I hope you can’t either. Of course, before we can, we must first sing #451 “Stricken, Smitten, and Afflicted” to remind ourselves of the incredible depths to which Jesus was willing to suffer in order to redeem and save us from our sins. And to that end, I invite all of you to our Holy Week worship starting on Palm Sunday, April 14th and continuing on Thursday April 18, Friday April 19, and then concluding April 21 with Easter worship where we’ll be reminded once again that, “It ain’t braggin’ if you can do it,” and Jesus did it for you!
Until next month….