"HOW CAN I SAY THANKS..."
By Rev. Tom Tuura
Pastor of Christ Lutheran Church
2021 Theme: "You are the Light of the World"
It is been said, many times that for there to be an Easter morning, there had to be a Good Friday. Our hearts are sobered by the fact of so many good Friday’s in our world, trials, wars, disease etc.—not THE Good Friday, but the small case type. On THE ‘Good’ Friday, God gave His only begotten Son to die on Calvary’s cruel cross. That dark Friday the Son of God of God hung and died for you and me. Only one is Good Friday is redemptive, but only because of the ONE Easter Sunday, the rest have meaning.
Let’s dwell on a few blessed tangibles of Easter morning.
The first blessing of Easter morning is the lifting of sorrow experienced by Mary as she wept in the garden tomb when she saw what turned out to be the Lord saying, “woman why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” Then He called her name. Like Mary, we need to hear our name. Not just facts and reports, but personally hearing our name. We are not necessarily suggesting an audible sound, but something just as real, as God’s Holy Spirit speaks to your heart and calls you by name. I trust you’ve “heard” your name, in a spiritual sense, as God calls you through His Word and Spirit.
Another blessing of Easter morning, is the change. Many people are stuck like glue in situations of desperation. No matter what they’ve tried, nothing changes. There is no deliverance. We can be so stubborn sometimes, refusing to turn. Ashamed to admit the mess we’ve created, or worried, because “they already think I’m a Christian, but I’m not, I’m just a hypocrite.”
There is both an immediate aspect and a future aspect to the change. I experienced personally the immediate change in my life. Paul speaks of this in Romans eight, “But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who lives in you.” Then the future, I Corinthians fifteen where Paul says, we will be changed. Wow, what a promise! It is both present, in time, and future in eternity. The Lord’s Apostles teach that we are saints, which means holy ones, separated ones, that is the change. Second Corinthians 5:17 says, “If anyone is in Christ he is a new creation, the old has gone and the new has come.”
So that change comes through justification, our legal standing before God as holy, and through sanctification, the new life and new identity aspect. And this then results in what Paul discusses in Romans six, to walk in newness of life.
One more benefit of Easter is the victory over the second death. Jesus in His letter to the second church Smyrna in Revelation 2:8-11 says in verse 11, “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes shall not be hurt by the second death.” And in chapter 20, John says, “Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years.” These verses are certainly a mouth full.
The second death is clearly described in chapter 21:8. This fearful verse speaks the uncompromising truth of the eternal realities for those who reject God. “But the cowardly, unbelieving , abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire, and brimstone, which is the second death.”
If this seems harsh, and terrible, remember John 3:16, “...whosoever believeth in Him shall not perish” Perishing is the reality and reason God sent His only begotten Son to prevent. Revelation 21:8 is simply the description of what perishing involves and its not pretty. Another verse is at the Great White Throne judgment. “The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works. Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.” (Rev 20:13-15)
The benefit of Easter Sunday is victory, or overcoming the second death as Jesus says in Revelation.
All of these benefits are life changing and wondrous. Its no wonder that saints from all over the world are celebrating today. I hope we can appreciate these things and thank God from the bottom of our hearts. I’m sure this is why Andrae Crouch who went to be with His Lord in 2015 wrote in the early ‘70’s the song “My Tribute” when he asks, “How can I say thanks for the things you have done for me, things so undeserved, but you came to give your life for me? The voices of a million angels could not express my gratitude. All that I am or ever hope to be, I owe it all to thee. To God Be the Glory!”
We certainly have much to be thankful for over the Easter season. I heard long ago, born once, die twice, born twice, die once. The benefits of the resurrection are life here and now, as well as eternal life and future glory with Christ and all the saints forever and ever.
That’s my view from the Blackberry Patch Pulpit