Trinity UMC's Sister Church in Ankara, Turkey

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About Me

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I serve as pastor of Trinity United Methodist Church in Annapolis, MD. I'm married to beautiful Paula, mother of my 4 sons and one daughter. I was a systems engineer before entering ministry 29 years ago.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Hallelujah! Christ Arose!

Low in the grave he lay, Jesus my Savior,
Waiting the coming day, Jesus my Lord!
Up from the grave he arose, with a mighty triumph o’er his foes;
He arose a victor from the dark domain,
And he lives forever with his saints to reign.
He arose! He arose! Hallelujah! Christ arose!

- Robert Lowry, 1874 (United Methodist Hymnal, #322)

Imagine you had never heard the Easter story before. Walk with me through the words of this wonderful hymn. Allow yourself to experience the emotions of someone hearing these great truths for the first time.

The first line is almost unbearably sad. Jesus is dead. He came to be our Savior, and now he is in the grave. How can a dead man save anyone? He is gone, our hope is gone, all seems lost.

But wait. The second line speaks, not of loss, but of waiting. Waiting implies hope. When the time is right, at “the coming day,” something is going to happen.

The second line also calls Jesus, “Lord.” That’s a huge step past “Savior.” Anybody can be a savior in the right circumstances. Even a dog can save somebody’s life. But no matter how grateful you are to be rescued, you’re never going to call the dog your lord. In order to fully grasp the significance of Easter, we do have to recognize Jesus as our Savior, who rescues us when we cannot save ourselves. But we also have to acknowledge him as Lord, as Master, as the one who has the right to direct our lives and command our allegiance. Recognizing and acknowledging this, and living in line with it, is the most basic meaning of being a Christian.

The third line gets to the reason why we’re singing. “Up from the grave he arose.” Jesus didn’t stay in the grave. He came back to life. He came back from the dead!

But Jesus didn’t just come come out of the grave. He came “with a mighty triumph o’er his foes.” This is not some reanimated corpse or zombie apocalypse. This is life, a whole new kind of life, a life this world hasn’t seen since the Garden of Eden.

“He arose a victor from the dark domain.” Jesus allowed himself to be taken captive into the depths of Satan’s kingdom of death. Then he didn’t just escape death. Jesus defeated death! He faced the worst the devil could do, in the devil’s own stronghold, and Jesus arose victorious.

“And he lives forever. . .” When death is defeated, life is eternal.

“. . . with his saints to reign.” This isn’t just talking about Peter and John and Mother Teresa. When the Bible uses the word “saints,” it means everyone who has decided to trade life in their own strength for life in Jesus Christ. If we are in Christ, and Christ is reigning in heaven, then from the viewpoint of eternity, guess where we are? In heaven, reigning with Christ. God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 2:6).

Easter is not just about the resurrection of Jesus. It’s about resurrection and eternal life for every person who puts their faith in Jesus. It’s about hope and new life and never-ending joy, not just for Jesus, but for everyone who follows him.

That’s why we sing on Easter, and every Sunday.

“He arose! He arose! Hallelujah! Christ arose!”