We Have Been Given New Life
“We Have Been Given New Life”
Archbishop Loren Thomas Hines
Second Sunday of Easter
April 3, 2016
Readings: Acts 5:12a, 17-22, 25-29 Psalm 111
This is the second Sunday of Easter but our readings take place on Easter because there’s so much about Easter that we must understand. Psalm 111 says, “Great are the works of the Lord; they are studied by all who delight in them.” God doesn’t do “little” things, and Easter is the greatest of His works. We should study and meditate on His works, even the tiniest detail, so that we may understand and benefit from the new life He gave us. How many of us really take the time to study His Word?
To give you a background on the Gospel reading, Christ was crucified on a Friday at noon and died at approximately 3pm. According to Jewish tradition, the Sabbath begins at 6pm on Friday. This is the reason why the Lord was crucified at this time; they didn’t want to violate the Sabbath. At the very moment that He died, the lambs for offering were killed in the temple. At around 3pm, Joseph of Arimathea asked Pilate for the body of the Lord because He had to be buried by 6pm. It is interesting that Joseph of Arimathea took with him 100 lbs. of spices to be placed on the body of the Lord before He was wrapped in linen. The spices were not meant for embalming but for purification, to ward off the stench of decay, even if Scriptures say that His body will not undergo decay.
At 6pm of the following day, Saturday, the women prepared more spices for the body of the Lord. Then early Sunday morning, they went to the tomb where they saw the stone rolled away. (The stone that covered the tomb is symbolic of the law which God wrote on tablets of stone. Its removal signals that God was ready to reveal the mysteries of the law to man.) The women were shocked and dismayed when they found the tomb empty. Then two angels suddenly stood near them in dazzling clothing and said to the terrified women, “Why do you seek the living One among the dead? He is not here, but has risen….” (Luke 24:5-6) The Lord told these women and His other followers days before that He must be delivered to the hands of sinful men and be crucified, and on the third day rise again, but they didn’t remember.
In today’s Gospel, the disciples were still confused and grieving about what happened to their Master. There were a lot of questions, disbelief, sorrow and fear in their hearts because the Lord wasn’t with them anymore, so they gathered together in a room and shut the door. Suddenly, the Lord stood in their midst and said to them, “Peace be with you.” He said this in love because He knew that they were in pain and afraid. They probably thought He was a ghost, which is why He showed them His hands and His side. He wanted to assure them that it was Him and that He is alive, effectively telling saying, “This is Me! I’m not a ghost. I’m alive. Feel my hands. This is Me, the same One they crucified.”
The other wounds of the Lord from the scourging and from the crown of thorns were healed and showed no scars or visible signs. Only those from the nails on His hands, feet and sides remained to show the disciples proof that it was Him standing before them. He asked for food, wanting to prove to them that He was still flesh and blood. He did this to let us know that His resurrected body was the same in form as it was before the crucifixion. He showed us that He had flesh but He was also divine. He maintained His flesh because He was identifying with man.
Most of us find it hard to believe what the Scriptures say. Christ took our sickness, yet we still get sick and remain sick. Isaiah says He took our grief and sorrow; grief in this sense covers sickness and all forms of pain. Christ went to the cross, not because of sin but because of LOVE. He loved us so much that He was willing to go to the cross for our sins and grief/pain.
Thomas wasn’t with the disciples when Jesus came. Thomas “doubted” what they told him, that they had seen the Lord, but only in the sense that he wanted the truth; that he sought proof that it was indeed the Lord they saw. So the Lord appeared to them again eight days later when Thomas was with them. When Thomas saw the Lord, he said, “My Lord and my God!” He acknowledged Jesus as Lord.
The Holy Spirit quickens the flesh. The book “Inner Pulse” gives several examples of people on the verge of death who lived when something inside of them caused them to believe they weren’t going die; that they were going to make it. I visited and ministered to a very sick patient in Pampanga last week. After my visit, I was told that she could talk again and she’s doing better. She was given hope; this is the “inner pulse”. Christ is telling us today, “Peace!” God lives in us. His life is in us. The One who conquered death is in us. Nothing should shake us anymore. The news magnifies the work of the devil, but Christ has already destroyed the work of the devil. He brought new life to us, and if we believe this, we will begin to manifest this new, victorious life. Instead, we hear today that we’ve been given new life, but when we leave the church, we forget and allow fear to creep in again. Paul said, “If you have been raised with Christ, set your mind on things above.” These “things above” are everything that involves victory over darkness – healing, peace, joy, prosperity and life. Christ has given us this new life.
Romans 8:11 “If the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.” This is our hope. We have life because the Holy Spirit dwells in us. Jesus said, “As the Father has sent Me, so I send you”. Our task is to destroy the works of the devil. We are to prove by our life that Christ is alive and He has given us new life. We are to take this message to the world.
During the Passover, Israel was instructed to spread the blood of lambs on their doorposts so that the angel of death would spare them. As a result, they lost no member of their household, not even an animal. If the blood of lambs could protect men from death, how much more can the blood of Christ do for us? We have His blood in our hearts; in our lives. We’ve been set free from death!
The flesh is sacred. Christ dwells in our flesh so we can proclaim Easter to the world. It’s time for the Church to wake up. We have new life! This doesn’t mean that we won’t have problems anymore because these problems are there to make us see what God can do for and through us, if we will only believe and allow Him to. The Holy Spirit empowers us to overcome sickness, pain and all other forms of darkness. This is Easter, the greatest miracle of Christ. In the midst of hell, the Spirit in Christ burst forth and destroyed hell from its core. Today, we are greater than the devil because Christ is with us and in us.