Dear Tabernacle Family!
Today we greet each other with the glad refrain, “Christ is Risen! Christ is Risen indeed!” Today we celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus the Messiah, the supreme fact of history!
Sadly, doubt and disbelief mark the hearts of many in our world who choose to reject the Biblical accounts of Jesus’ resurrection. Some critics of the Gospel purport that belief in a risen Messiah arose from the passion of a hallucinating woman; meaning that Mary Magdalene was in love with Jesus and deluded herself into thinking that she had seen him alive when she had actually only seen the gardener. This thought is preposterous, when considering the last person Mary expected to see walking in the garden was Jesus. The only reason she was there was to anoint his crucified body (Mk. 16:1).
Likewise, there is no evidence that any of the disciples anticipated the Lord’s resurrection (Mk. 16:10), for those closest to Jesus were in complete despair (Jn. 20:19). Thomas, for one, was adamant in his disbelief (Jn. 20:24-25), and others, like the Emmaus disciples, were scattering (Lu. 24:13-17). Yet, despite all this, we find within a matter of days after the Lord’s resurrection, all of them were convinced of what beforehand they thought impossible! Having encountered the risen Jesus, they went forth to tell about Him, persisting in their conviction in the face of great peril, threats, persecution, and ultimately death.
That same testimony has been carried through the centuries, as countless believers have died for their faith in the Risen Savior. Tradition says ten of the original apostles gave their lives as martyrs for Christ, as did the Apostle Paul. History records the deaths of those who died in the Roman arena for their faith. Throughout the centuries, and now in our day more than ever, believers suffer persecution and martyrdom because they are convinced of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead. (Rom. 6:9; 14:9; Rev. 1:18)
Beloved, we do not draw back from our faith-filled declaration, “Christ is Risen!” Today, as we gather in the Presence of the Risen Lord, let us rejoice for the living hope that is ours in our resurrected Messiah.
With Easter joy,
Bishop Robert Stearns