The Easter Anthems - 2 Corinthians 5:7-8; Romans 6:9-11; 1 Corinthians 15:20-22.
Christ our Passover has been sacrificed for us:
therefore let us celebrate the feast.
Not with the old leaven of corruption and wickedness;
but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.
Christ once raised from the dead dies no more;
death has no more dominion over him.
In dying, he died to sin once for all;
in living, he lives to God.
See yourselves therefore as dead to sin:
and alive to God in Jesus Christ our Lord.
Christ has been raised from the dead:
the first fruits of those who sleep.
For as by man came death:
by man has come also the resurrection from the dead.
For as in Adam all die:
even so in Christ shall all be made alive.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit:
as it was in the beginning, is now,
and shall be forever;
world without end. Amen.
Almighty Father and ever-living God, you who through your only-begotten Son Jesus Christ have overcome death, and opened to us the gate of eternal life: We humbly pray that, through your grace going before us, good desires will enter into our minds, and, by your continued help, we shall be able to bring them to right fulfillment; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
THE WORD OF GOD
Exodus 12 : 21 -28
Then Moses summoned all the elders of Israel and said to them, ”Go at once and select the animals for your families and slaughter the Passover lamb. Take a bunch of hyssop, dip it into the blood in the basin and put some of the blood on the top and on both sides of the doorframe. Not one of you shall go out of the door of his house until morning. When the Lord goes through the land to strike down the Egyptians, he will see the blood on the top and sides of the doorframe and will pass over that doorway, and he will not permit the destroyer to enter your houses and strike you down. Obey these instructions as a lasting ordinance for you and your descendants. When you enter the land that the Lord will give you as he promised, observe this ceremony. And when your children ask you, ‘What does this ceremony mean to you?’ Then tell them, ‘It is the Passover sacrifice to the Lord, who passed over the houses of the Israelites in Egypt and spared our homes when he struck down the Egyptians.’” Then the people bowed down and worshiped. The Israelites did just what the Lord commanded Moses and Aaron.
Colossians 3 : 1 - 7
Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived.
John 20 : 1 - 10
Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance. So she came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, and said, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!” So Peter and the other disciple started for the tomb. Both were running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent over and looked in at the strips of linen lying there but did not go in. Then Simon Peter who was behind him, arrived and went into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there, as well as the burial cloth that had been around Jesus’ head. The cloth was folded up by itself, separate from the linen. Finally the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went inside. He saw and believed. (They still did not understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead.)
CHRIST OUR PASSOVER
Christ sacrificed for us is an ever-engaging theme. His was a death instead of ours. A gospel devoid of a Substitute is not the Gospel of God. Whatever form of Christian faith it is that denies the Savior’s vicarious suffering and dying on our behalf as condemned sinners, that articulation of the faith is dubious. Paul sums up our message as “Christ crucified”, and that historical fact is matched in Holy Scripture with the night of the passover long ago in Egypt when Israel’s faith in the blood of the lamb spared them from the wrath of the Destroyer. The true believer is spared the penalty of sin by the passion and death of the Lord Jesus.
Sentiment and specious sophistication of religious thought in the boundaries of the Christian Church has often attempted to silence the scandal of the cross and brand it as barbarism in the way that a pompous aristocrat repudiated the sermon of George Whitefield preached on a particular occasion in an upper class salon of his day (was it Bolingbroke or Chesterfield?). The cross is an offense to the proud and the worldly-wise, even among those deemed to be respectably religious and who harbor the desire to fit theology to their delicate and pretentious sensibilities; Christ our passover is cherished by the poor in spirit, frightened and humbled by the demands of the law, and the awesome holiness of God. “For our God is a consuming fire” (Hebrews 12:29).
It is sheer pride that quarrels with the biblical way of salvation. Pride and human blindness fail to reckon on the depth and extent of our corruption and wickedness and that we have forfeited any entitlement to life, temporal and eternal. Intellectual and moral arrogance occupy a prime seat at the heart of the nominal people of God. Therefore, sovereign grace is despised and the cross is regarded as contemptible. We can only be spared destruction through the way that divine compassion has devised - the substitutionary death and sacrifice of a loving and voluntary victim embracing death in our stead. We cannot pretty-up Calvary. Only convinced sinners discover its wonderful attraction.
ALIVE TO GOD IN CHRIST JESUS OUR LORD
Where justification by faith (through the blood-shedding) has been wrought in the heart of the guilty there is the effect of renewed minds and holy life: not the poisonous notion of already attained perfection, but an hatred for and constant struggle with remaining sin, which keeps us lowly before God and neighbor in spirit, and ever reliant upon freely available cleansing and restorative grace.
The words of our seventeenth Article are beautiful and true: “The godly consideration of Predestination, and our Election in Christ, is full of sweet, pleasant, and unspeakable comfort to godly persons, and such as feel in themselves the working of the Spirit of Christ, mortifying the works of the flesh, and their earthly members, and drawing up their mind to high and heavenly things”, exactly as Paul exhorts “Set your minds above, not on earthly things”(Colossians 3: 2). True trust and confidence in Christ is evidence of his resurrection life within us which engenders reverent and “high and heavenly thoughts”, and virtuous living and action. Holiness strives to expel the vileness of the old nature. Growing goodness is a complementary and essential quality donated to the disposition of faith.
There is no indifference to righteousness in the heart of those born from above through supernatural re-creation. We used to walk in evil ways but now we detest them and mourn when we slip inadvertently, or stray stubbornly. Our frailty and fluctuations frustrate us and bring us to contrition. Continual repentance is a featurein life with the risen Christ.
THE GATE OF ETERNAL LIFE
Exalted views of the Lord Jesus are sure fruits of authentic Easter faith within us. We participate in his resurrection through new status, sensibility, behavior and destiny. Our new being has begun and will be complete in the world to come. As sacrifice, Christ procures our new and blessed life - sins forgiven, amends are made to God through him, and fellowship restored. In Christ and because of him we are alive to God, aware of him, enjoying him, recipients of his favor. The crowning blessing bestowed through the Lord Jesus is to enter, by his mercy and merit, the gate of eternal life.
The misery of sin has been taken away, that barrier to life and the dread portal to the realm of death. Unimaginable bliss is our prospect in the inextinguishable joy of heaven and its perpetual friendly and cheering light. The face of the Lord will shine endlessly upon us and his presence will surround and infill us, causing us to glow more brightly than angels.
The thrill of the gospel is that Christ has “opened the kingdom of heaven to all believers” (Te Deum). The Easter Season, the Resurrection Festival, opens before us, and displays, every dimension of our Christ-wrought rescue and redemption: Christ our passover has been sacrificed for us: therefore let us celebrate the feast. Through him we have been spared. See yourselves therefore as dead to sin, and alive to God in Jesus Christ our Lord. We have entered a new existence. Christ admits us to everlasting life. Our cause for exceeding joy. All this is true, real and assured because “He is Risen!”
Christ crucified draw you to himself, to find in him a sure ground for faith, a firm support for hope, and the assurance of sins forgiven. Blessing for Holy Week.