Our Savior, Christ Jesus … has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. 2 Timothy 1:10
“I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.” John 11:25-26
But Jesus was saying, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.” And they cast lots, dividing up His garments among themselves. Luke 23:34
It is the week we celebrate the passion, crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Who was He? Who am I?
He is the omnipotent, infinite, omnipresent and eternal God of all that is seen and unseen, who took the form of human flesh in His creation.
Instead of the heraldry due the arrival of the eternal King, He arrived as the apparent bastard son of a peasant woman in a formerly nomadic tribe somewhere in the west-Asian backwaters of the Roman Empire. The God who spoke reality into existence ex nihilo was born amongst the filth and squalor of livestock. His first visitors were sheep herders who were roughly the social equivalent of today’s garbage collectors. To further emphasize that God does not do it “our way,” he was born to a virgin. This promised deliverer grew up in obscurity. He befriended prostitutes and tax collectors. His public execution was a mocking spectacle.
And He rose from the dead and forever changed the world.
This king conquered by being beaten, tortured, and slowly and painfully murdered on a cross by the hated Roman pagans. Killed by those He created. In the midst of his agony, Jesus asked for their forgiveness. Three days later, he rose again, and after a short period of teaching, ascended into the heavens. He then sent his Spirit to dwell with those who put their faith in His sacrifice.
Billy Graham adroitly observed the many ironies in the life and legacy of Christ:
It has often been pointed out that Jesus lived in a small country and never went beyond its borders. He was so poor that He said he had nowhere to lay His head. His only pocketbook was the mouth of a fish. He rode on another man’s beast. He cruised the lake in another man’s boat. He was buried in another man’s grave. And He had laid aside a royal robe for all this.
He never wrote a book. His recorded words would hardly make a pocket edition. Yet if all the words that have been written about Him were brought together, they would fill a thousand libraries.
He never founded a college to perpetuate his doctrines. Yet His teachings have endured for more than two thousand years.
He never carried a sword, He never organized an army, He never built a navy, and He never had an air force. Yet he founded an empire in which there are millions today who would die for him.
Billy Graham, Wisdom for Each Day. The Pharisees could not stop the testimonies. Roman gladiators and lions could not execute Christianity. Islamic jihad did not overcome the Gospel. Christianity buried the Roman Empire, the Reichskirche and the Soviet Union . Tens of millions of Christians now live in atheist communist China, which is on pace to soon have the largest population of Christians. Most importantly, death itself did not stop Christ. Through his conquering death, we have the faith and hope that he conquered death for us as well. He paid an infinite, perfect price for our transgressions against the infinite and perfect God.
Jesus Christ was, is and forever shall be the Alpha and the Omega. Timeless. Eternal. Holy. True, honorable and just. He is love.
He is Lord of creation and savior of humanity.
Pastor Stephen Davey introduced his Palm Sunday sermon last week with the story of WWI French soldiers who suffered war induced amnesia and the story of how the nation recovered the identities of these the living unknown soldiers. Pastor Davey asked us what is our true identity?
Who am I?
I am a son of Adam. I am the wanderer without a land who forgets God after He delivers me from captivity. I am God’s anointed king who murders his loyal supporter to take his wife. I am the thief on the cross and an apostle who falls asleep while He suffers alone in the dark. I am one of the many cowards who fled when the soldiers came for Him. I am His friend who denied knowing Him during His hour of persecution when I was confronted in the courtyard of His trial. I’m the tearful prostitute and the traitor tax collector. In the light of the Holy God, I am a sinful man.
Through Christ, I am also forgiven, a new creation and a reborn man. I am saved. I have a new identity. A new birth. The mystery of Easter: why the eternal creator God would die for a wretch like me, even while I still rebelled against Him.
I am a Christian. A follower of my creator God and savior. He gave us the free gift of life and offers to all the free gift of eternal life to those who will believe and put their trust in Him. When I followed Him, He changed my life. He changed me. He changed who I am and I am grateful. He promises eternity. Christ provides strength, peace and hope.
As cogently described by A.W. Tozer, the walk defies worldly wisdom.
A real Christian is an odd number anyway. He feels supreme love for one whom he has never seen, talks familiarly every day to Someone he cannot see, expects to go to heaven on the virtue of Another, empties himself in order to be full, admits he is wrong so he can be declared right, goes down in order to get up, is the strongest when he is weakest, richest when he is poorest, and happiest when he feels worst. He dies so he can live, forsakes in order to have, gives away so he can keep, sees the invisible, hears the inaudible, and knows that which passeth knowledge.
A.W. Tozer, The Root of the Righteous.
Who are you?