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Summary: He is risen - He is risen indeed. What are the implications for us?

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NR 08-04-07

Easter Sunday Morning

Story: There is a picture, drawn by Clive Chislett which is mounted on one of the original Norman pillars of our Church here in New Romney.

It is on the pillar closest to the war memorial.

Do have a look at it before you leave today.

In the picture, Faust is engaged in a competitive game of chess against the Devil.

And at first glance, it looks like Faust is losing.

His opponent stands there grinning smugly.

Satan thinks he has won.

He is gloating.

You can almost hear the devil thinking:

"Checkmate! Game’s over! I win!"

However, a person with a keen eye - and who knows the game of chess well- will see that the match is over - but not in the way the Devil envisaged.

Because Faust has one move and one move only – that will give him the victory!

The picture has a very real meaning to us as Christians because it is a parable of the good news of Easter.

Think of it. When we look at the Cross on Good Friday, it looks (at first glance) like evil has won.

It looks like the defeat of righteousness.

It looks like goodness is dead and buried forever.

It looks like Jesus has been silenced and conquered.

But then, Easter Sunday morning reveals God’s greatest “checkmate” move of all time.

Christ comes out of the grave and into our lives with power and victory.

Easter is the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.

The Russian Orthodox Church has this wonderful acclamation made three times on Easter Sunday

The Priest says: “He is risen”

And the congregation reply:

“He is risen, indeed”

But how do we know it true?

Professor Charlie Moule, the famous NT theologian once said:

"the birth and rapid rise of the Christian Church ... remains an unsolved enigma for any historian who refuses to take seriously the only explanation offered by the church itself - the resurrection." (C.F.D. Moule, The Phenomenon of the New Testament).

Most Sundays we profess our faith in the Resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead when we say the words of the Creed:

“ I believe ..….in Jesus Christ,

his only Son our Lord who was

Conceived by the Holy Spirit,

Born of the Virgin Mary,

Suffered under Pontius Pilate,

Was crucified, dead and buried

He descended into Hell;

The third day he rose again from the dead”

(The Apostles Prayer - BCP)

The Resurrection is a major pillar of our faith

St. Paul put it like this:

“..if Christ has not been raised from the dead, your faith is futile” (I Cor. 15: 17)

St. Paul, a first Century witness, records the importance of the Easter story.

He wrote this in 1 Corinthians

”For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance:

i) that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures,

ii) that he was buried,

iii) that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and

iv) that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve

After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born. (1 Cor. 15:3-8).

Paul records 513 (five hundred and thirteen) men as having seen the risen Lord.

Have you ever therefore wondered why

John mentions only four post Resurrection appearances of the Risen Jesus.

In this Chapter, John 20 we read of three of these.

He appeared

i) to Mary Magdalene

ii) to all the disciples except Thomas and finally

iii) to Thomas

And in the following Chapter, John 21 we read of Jesus appearing to seven disciples including Peter, James and John, Thomas, Nathaniel and two unnamed disciples and his having breakfast with them.

Surely if the resurrection is such a big deal, why didn’t John add many more of the stories of these encounters?

At the very least – why didn’t he simply catalogue when, where and who had seen the

risen Christ.

Surely that would make interesting reading.

1. Have you ever wondered what the reaction of James -Jesus’ brother - was - when the risen Jesus appeared to him.

And what did he say?

2. I wonder if Jesus appeared to Nicodemus - the Jewish rabbi who had sought him out that night as recorded in Jn 3.

It was the same Nicodemus who had helped Joseph of Arimathea bury Jesus

The reason John doesn’t record more post Resurrection encounters is because it didn’t fit in with the aim of his book. What do I mean ?

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