Sunday, 27 March 2016

Easter Sunday - the day our hopes were dashed!

So, we did our worst. The greatest religious system the world has ever seen (ancient, venerable, coherent, and actually founded by the living God!) got together with the world's greatest military and legal empire to bring about his death. The greed of one betrayer met the bloodcurdling hate of the whipped-up crowd. Envy and hypocrisy, "righteous indignation" and outright cruelty: the very worst of human evils jostled for position in the motives that took him to the cross. 

Above all, or behind all, in that coming together of apparently unnatural allies, was the overarching motive of opposition to God and his Messiah. Not that they would have put it that way, but lusty old Herod, and oh-so-righteous Pharisees, and do-it-by-the-book Roman governors, and the most sadistic of legionnaires who were happy to get crucifixion duties, were all actually together in wanting rid of the rule of God.  Both religion and atheism do so much better without him, don't they?

Of course, that opposition to God's rule is a family trait. It goes right back to the fruit in the garden. We deny it by seeing it only in certain groups, by distancing our own clan, by finding the "odd alliances" surprising. "All Romanians are pickpockets." "All Nigerians are corrupt." "All Pikeys are thieves." "The Jew is the corruption of the world." The reality is that we are all more allied than we ever admit. Together we hate our Creator. 

So together we killed him. Good Friday is our great day of hope. The Fruit Project reached its climax at Calvary. All the varied evil motives that roil in the human heart came together, and we killed him. 

But now it is Sunday. And with the snap of a seal and the rumbling earth-shake of a heavy stone rolling, the universe hears the verdict on our Friday efforts. And though human ears are dull to the sound, the furthest reaches of the universe hear the roar of that word. Angels hear it and shout, "Glory!" Devils hear it and tremble. 

"No!" thunders from the throne of God. 

No! Death shall not hold him!

No! Military power and bureaucratic whitewash will not win!

No! Religion and man-made, man-approved, man-acceptable righteousness will fall!

No! Envy and hypocrisy and hatred and greed and lust and pride and lying and cruelty will not have the last word! 

No! Sin will not have the victory!

No! You will not thwart my will, resist my moral purpose, or prevent me placing my son on the seat of power and judgement as True Man and worthy King!

That roar of "No!" is the most thrilling moment in the history of the universe. It is the announcement of the end. Even though humankind has gone on to commit unspeakable evils, even in countries where that resurrection word has been heard for centuries, that "No!" echoes down to us as the declaration of victory. It is the preliminary word that comes from the Judgement Seat of the Last Day. It is the Man who was raised who will occupy that seat, and the No! against all that came together in his death will be heard again when he speaks. 

There will be justice! Envy and rape, greed and cruelty, gossip and tax dodging, dangerous driving and drug smuggling - all will be revealed and judged. Arms dealers and terrorists will be rebuked and stripped of all power. Nazi war criminals will be on trial, mingling with slavers and killers of every country and era. Jack the Ripper will be there along with the culprit of every other unsolved murder. Affairs will no longer be secret. Horrible harboured hatreds will be seen for what they are. Religion will be confined to the garbage heap. 

The failure to love our Creator with heart and soul and mind and strength will be exposed.  

And "No!" will be said for the last time over it all. 

That is Christian hope. Justice will be done. The evil will end. The terrorists will not win. Chaos will not have the last word. For Jesus will!

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The church has absolutely no right to speak of hope at Easter - to promise that fear or terrorism or government cruelty or death itself will be conquered - except in terms that challenge us to repentance and faith. Easter hope is not vague or fluffy. For, unless I turn from my sin and embrace this Christ, then this great No! is directed at me too.  The apparent, shallow, brief victory of Good Friday is my high point! Without repentance - capitulation to the reign of this Jesus - I am with the killers. Friday is our day of hope;  Sunday marks the end of hope, the crashing of our project, the despair that our sin  cannot and will not win. Jesus' resurrection says that, not only is God against our sin, but he is going to do something about it. 

This isn't very chocolate eggs or fluffy bunnies. But it is how the apostles preached the resurrection. And here we are, still hearing the message. 

And THAT is hope! Today's the day to turn from the rebellion, to turn from Christocide, to turn from sin, and ask God for forgiveness. 

Does he really accept people who have done so much wrong? Yes he does! There you have the significance of the fact that the first hearers of this message were actual physical Christ killers. Hope for them?! Hope for you and me!!

And here is the best part. The part so good that in all of eternity I'm never going to stop saying and singing how good this part is. Here it comes:

The same name, Jesus, the name of the Christ we killed, is the guarantee of forgiveness, because that death which was the "finest hour" of sin was also the finest hour of grace. While we were hating God, God was loving us. While we beat and bruised and killed his Son, thinking this was the culmination of doing-our-own-thing, God purposed that beating and bruising and dying to be the punishment point for all who trust in him.  

Easter hope! It is wonderful news for every persons who drops out of the rebellion and runs to the side of Jesus. 

Run there today! 

Friday, 25 March 2016

Kicking back on Good Friday

Today's the day. We get our chance. Someone once said that given half a chance we'd kill our creator - and today we're going to. 

All that perfection. All that love. All that holiness. Everything about everything that man says and does makes me feel like a little s***. And I'm sick of it. I want shot of him!

Just think - a couple of stiff beatings, a few nails - job done. I know it seems a bit barbaric, but think of the freedom! Imagine: with him gone... No hell below us! Above us only sky! Then we can get on with living for today. 

A whole world of possibility opens up for us going forward. This, friends, is where we've been heading ever since we got the Knowledge. We are now utterly free to choose EVERYTHING for ourselves. With no rule-maker and no judge, with the king dead, there is no one there to tell us what to do. Nothing is absolutely wrong anymore - just wrong when it offends. There is no "truth" out there, so make your own. 

From now on, we just have... from now on. This moment. Now. This. Love it. Live it. Breathe. Enjoy. Give yourself to it. No one is there who will ever judge anything you do! Free at last! We're free at last!

Mind you, if he ever comes back from this, we're stuffed. Don't give me that happy Easter crap. If after THIS God makes him alive, then what's he going to appoint him? And having killed him, what will he do to us? And all this freedom of ours... what will he have to say?

I hope death can hold him. Cos, if it can't, we're going to need a rethink.