Colossians 3:1-4 Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. 3 For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
I reckon the guy in the video is right. All of us are doing more than just coming to church today. You’re doing more than just sitting in church attending to the family tradition, church tradition or personal taste for Easter Sunday.
We are “rolling the dice, aren’t we? We are taking a punt again; taking a risk by being here – responding to a question, dealing with a doubt, coping with a fear, longing for a hope we can live our life on, testing out a possibility…
I am saying it; Jesus is not dead. He was dead but he is not dead anymore.
You can bank on it being said; like the girl singing the national anthem before bounce down at the Grand
Final, or the world’s most well-known and used song being sung by all as the candles are blown out at the birthday party. I am saying it. Jesus is not dead. He was dead, but he isn’t now.
So, we have a question to consider today. This “Not Dead Jesus” stuff. Is it really true? Can I trust my ears? Can I trust the preacher man? Can I trust the Christians around me? Can I trust that account of the first dawn of Easter time?
Now as St Paul says, if this Jesus “not dead” stuff is not true; if Jesus of Nazareth did not rise from the valley of death to the heights of new life, then we Christian people are mere fools – misled, misplaced, misinformed, missing the mark.
If Jesus is not dead now, then we probably are wasting our time here this morning, or worse, harming the world with a lie.
I was talking to a young man earlier this year who was telling me his story of coming to faith. He said that before he met Jesus personally in his Word and through his people, he believed that Christianity was in fact harming the world in the form or oppression and war and prejudice.
This is not a new belief at all. Marx said that “religion in the opiate of the people”. Stalin and many a despotic ruler has tried to wipe our faith in Jesus Christ – even Saul of tarsus tried it for a while. You do have to get rid of him if you want more power.
Yes, if Jesus is dead, like all the good people and gurus of history who got a bad deal, then we would probably do better to find someone with a birthday, bring out a cake, sing the song, blow out the candles and the last person should switch the lights out on the church as we all scatter to the winds – like they did that first Good Friday.
But friends, what of it is true and right and good and now? Jesus is not dead. He was dead, but he isn’t now.
What if you can trust those first witnesses and those who captured their witness for us? What if you can trust the church’s heart and message across geography and ethnicity and language for 2000 years? What if you can trust this preacher man and people of the Way of Jesus around you?
Imagine the possibilities – a huge billboard with ‘Jesus: Not dead” on it lighting up the Sydney Harbour Bridge or Times Square or Adelaide Oval.
That’s not enough. How about a huge billboard not in any one place a but a global billboard, not made of metal or paper but of living, breathing people who have been buried and resurrected with Jesus awaiting his appearing in glory (Colossians 3:3); carrying the message: “Jesus: not dead”!
The breathing billboard of people are the ones whose lives are now “hidden in Christ” (Colossians 3:3).
They know he was dead. He was not pretending. God was not pulling a shifty and faking it or doing some shape-shifting trick that belongs to science fiction shows. Jesus was human and was dead, dead, dead. The funeral was over, the body in the tomb, the casseroles had all been eaten.
Jesus, the one who said he is “I AM” – the God of all creation; the God who parented and loved an ancient community for generations; he was dead and buried and he knew the pit, he tasted dark death for real.
Death? A complete forsakenness – the divine relationship between Father, Son and Spirit allowed to be killed for a moment. The Father turns his face away from the Son and the Son is alone in shameful repose for 9 hours when the world was truly dark.
But then in the dim pre-dawn light, “Jesus: not dead”: Alive. Later on, he is walking around, speaking, eating, drinking and bringing all their confusion to calm, their fear to courage, their failure and shame to acceptance and hope. Jesus: not dead – what do you do with a guy like that?
What do YOU do with a guy like that? I reckon you pay attention to him. Hear what he says. Do what you hear him teaching you about death and life and loving.
When he makes his commitments to you – which are many: openhearted acceptance, inexhaustible forgiveness every time you repent and trust, powered spirit to get his mission done, joy in all sadness and courage in all challenge to burn, you say, “thank you, Jesus!”
When he says that your life is hidden in his and that your life as you know it is a pilgrimage with him to the ultimate life and belonging with all the fellow travellers on this “parade to his glory”, you say, ‘let me get my drum, my trumpet, my guitar, my spoons, my piano accordion and play and sing along!
Let me fall in with the holy community on a mission to pick up any stragglers and search for any “lost ones and frowned upons” (from song, ‘Reaching out’, © words and music: Robin Mann).
Will you join in? Will you gladly fall into his line, his way, his journey with everyone here and a billion others around planet earth today as the beat goes on, the parade marches on in joy?
Will you re-embrace the church’s journey as it moves on to that undiscovered country of the Saviour to whom we all belong?
Just today….. and maybe tomorrow.
Go ahead. Beat your drum, join the song, speak the prayer, love the Word, be the church, celebrate like you’ve got nothing to lose and him to gain because you already have it all in him.
Mary, John, Peter, Andrew, Simon, Silome, Cornelius…
Man, woman, girl, boy, worker, wage earner, shop keeper, butcher, baker, candlestick maker; battler, winner, loser, high or low, pick up your accordion and play because Jesus is not dead. He was dead, but now he is not and you don’t have to be either. Amen