“If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins.” – I Corinthians 15:17
The cross is the literal crux and symbol of our faith. Yet the cross is not the end of the story. For the last number of weeks we’ve focused on all that Jesus accomplished in his death, but on Easter or Resurrection Sunday we celebrate that Jesus is alive.
I remember a popular Easter song called “He Lives”, which I couldn’t stand both for its annoying tune (personal issue) and its worse lyrics (theological issue). The chorus climaxes, “you ask me how I know he lives: he lives within my heart.” For the songwriter, the definitive evidence of Jesus’ resurrection is a warm feeling in his heart.
You ask me how I know he lives… the tomb was empty. Period. No body was produced, even by his determined enemies. If they were able to produce the body, the whole Christian movement would have died with Jesus. Instead, hundreds of eyewitnesses, at many times and in many ways, claim to have seen him for themselves, including many who previously disbelieved and even opposed Jesus (I Cor 15:4-9). These eyewitnesses were willing to die for this truth. Roman, Jewish and Christian historical sources all testify to the veracity of Jesus’ resurrection. The resurrection is historical fact. The tomb was empty.
Jesus is alive, not just within my heart or in subjective experiences. He’s alive, with a new resurrection body, sitting at the right hand of the Father in all power and authority for all eternity (Eph 1:21). He is supreme over all things and in him all things hold together (Col 1:17). He is the head of the church, its chief shepherd (I Pt 5:4) and empowers Christians as they bring the gospel to the world (Mt 28:18-20). He intercedes on our behalf and acts as our mediator with the Father (I Tim 2:5) Today, he sits on the throne (Rev 4-5), where he rules as sovereign King and Lord. In the future, he will return to fully establish his kingdom, bring creation back to shalom, and to judge the living and the dead (Acts 10:42).
Sometimes people talk as though Jesus is simply alive in their heart, in their memories and in the stories we re-tell. More than that, Jesus is actually alive right now. He actually rules and reigns. He actually moves in history. He actually has power and authority. He actually will return. He is actually the eternal King.
We don’t gather to keep Jesus alive in our memories and hearts.
We gather because he is alive. He is present.
He doesn’t need our help to keep him alive. It’s reality.
He is king. He is Supreme. There is no other.