We Have Been Raised With Christ
“We Have Been Raised With Christ”
Archbishop Loren Thomas Hines
March 27, 2016
Readings: Acts 10:34-43, Psalm 118:14-29
Happy Easter! May the reality of God’s love be manifested in our lives that the world may know the greatness of our God.
In Exodus is the beginning of the new life for Israel. After 430 years in captivity in Egypt, when they’ve eaten the lamb in the Passover meal, their new life began. This speaks powerfully to us. Today, it’s the Eucharist that marks the Passover for us. When we partake of the blood of Christ, the Lamb of God, in the Eucharist, isn’t this infinitely more powerful than the blood of lambs? If we believe this, our lives would manifest the power of God. John 1:3 tells us that “all things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being”. All of creation was done in perfection.
I was meditating on yesterday’s event – Christ going to hell. He had to go there in the flesh carrying our sins. He destroyed hell from the inside (at the very “heart” of the matter), and not from the outside. He harrowed/tore down the gates of hell to set the captives free. He went there to bring out the captives, and in that act, He destroyed death, hell and the grave. What He did is a proclamation: “I’m not dead! I’m alive!”
The women came to the tomb bringing spices which they had prepared for the body of Christ. Before that, Joseph of Arimathea already brought 100 lbs. of spices to embalm the body of the Lord; so what were the women still planning to do with all the spices they were bringing? They loved Christ, but they did not really believe in the resurrection, even when He told them that He would rise again on the third day. They were there to prepare Him for death.
2 Corinthians 5:17 “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.” All things are new! We have been given new life because of the resurrection of Christ. Why do we still cling to the old way of life, like Israel craving for the spices of Egypt? Today we have new life; new beginnings! It’s time that we wake up and realize what God has given to us in this new life. He gave us LIFE, not death. It’s sad that many of us still hold on to death, with our endless grumblings that life is hard and we can’t take it anymore.
The stone that sealed the tomb of the Lord symbolizes the law given to Moses that was written in tablets of stone. The law prevented the people from seeing the truth because of legalism. When the stone was removed and the tomb was opened, this signaled the end of our living by law and started for us a life of grace.
The angels said to the women: ‘Why do you seek the living One among the dead? He is not here, but He has risen. Remember how He spoke to you while he was still in Galilee, saying that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified, and the third day rise again?” (Luke 24:5b-7) The angels were effectively saying, “Do you still not believe, even if the Lord told you that He will rise again on the third day?” When we go to cemeteries, why do we seek the living among the dead? They are not gone; they are just changed, graduated to new life. Our Lord is not dead. We have the cross to remind us what Christ has done. He freed us from sin, sickness, sorrow, and death by His blood. We should be thankfully rejoicing that the stone has been rolled away because we can’t fulfill the Ten Commandments at all times, and if we break one of the commandments, we break all ten.
Death is not a part of life. Jesus said even if we die, we live. We shouldn’t be preoccupied with death. In the US, the minute a baby is born, the insurance people are there. We’ve allowed the world to deceive us.
Colossians 3:1 “If you have been raised with Christ, keep seeking the things above where Christ is….” Our life should be devoted to seeking and doing the things that are consistent with the new life we’ve been given; things that will please God. Instead, we destroy one another in our desire to get ahead in life, not realizing that in doing so, we sink even deeper in the mire. Christ does not destroy; He lifts up and exalts the lowly. What drives us? What are our visions for life? In the US and also in this country, we want to keep up with the Joneses. If our neighbor gets a new TV, we want to get a bigger one, even if we don’t need another TV. We are constantly enslaved by insecurity. If the love of God brought His Son to the cross, what more do we need in terms of security? Christ destroyed hell from the inside; from its core. There is absolutely no possibility for the enemy to rebuild it. For this purpose Christ was revealed – to destroy the works of the devil: fear, stress, anxiety, sickness, pain, disease, insecurity and death. Christ’s work is only love. Galatians 5:22 tells us of the fruit that the Spirit produces in our lives; fruit that is purely love.
Today, churches are packed to celebrate Easter. Yesterday, in Jakarta, a Muslim nation, 15 thousand people were brought to Christ. Something is happening. The beautiful cross on the altar is a gift from Barcelona. It is an antique, a declaration from way back of the new life. Out of the darkness comes light – this is what Easter is all about. Why do we seek the living among the dead? We seek life from the world – from education, material wealth, fame, etc. – but they are only temporary. During our Manila Garden days, a woman attended church and would always come in a limousine and with guards. She was very wealthy. One of her homes had 16 T&B, 22 servants and 8 automobiles; yet she was miserable. Her son tried to kill her. Despite her wealth, she gave sparingly to the church, and died cursing God. The wealth of this world does not bring happiness.
We should be happy with what God gives us. Today is Easter, a celebration of the risen Lord. We should be thankful for everything that God has done for us. We embark on new beginnings. We set our minds on things above, thanking God for our healing and His provision for our lives. Christ did what He believed in; we, too should live out what we believe in. We should follow through with what we say we’d do. We should live out this new life we’ve been given. We should be witnesses of the risen Christ. Christ did not go straight to heaven after His resurrection. He stayed on earth for a time to prove to many that He is alive. For us today, all things have become new. Let us renew our mind and prove the will of God. Let’s proclaim to the world that “I’m not sick, old and poor. I’m a child of God!” When we say this, it may not be the current reality, but it’s the truth according to the Word of God. Truth is more powerful than reality because it is unchanging. We have been risen with Christ. Let us proclaim our risen Lord by living out this new life He has given us.