Victor’s Crown

empty-tomb

Of what relevance is the Christian Faith if Jesus was abandoned in the grave and His body was left to see decay? If Christ hasn’t been raised, everything about our faith is utter nonsense; absolutely nothing but wishful thinking. Think of it this way: if Jesus was a man of integrity, taught profoundly, performed marvelous miracles but failed to rise up from the grave after His crucifixion, the message of the Cross would have been a very fruitless one. But thanks be to the Living God whose Word remains ever true, the Resurrection story forever remains a fact.

Christianity is unique in what it professes not because its followers are willing to die for what it teaches. That’s never the case. Other religions out there also have followers ever willing and ever ready to die for what they believe in. That’s pretty identical on a surface level. After all, everyone believes in one thing or another (not everything we believe is right by the way). However, the uniqueness of Christianity and the Resurrection story  hinge on the fact that Jesus demonstrated His bodily resurrection PUBLICLY. This is where the fog begins to clear up. It wasn’t a spiritual resurrection and it didn’t happen behind closed doors. We’re talking about a BODILY RESURRECTION  in an open place where people could witness exactly what was going on. In 1 Corinthians 15, Paul presents the early church’s creed as a way of laying down some fundamental truths of Christianity. He made it clear states that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures…was buried…rose again on the third day according to the Scriptures…was seen by Cephas (a.k.a Peter) then by the Twelve…seen by over 500 brethren at once…was seen by James then all the apostles…then lastly by Paul. Just look at that! We have over 500 witnesses here from various places confirming the death and resurrection of Christ! Bible records that most of them were still alive at that time meaning you could actually have a one-on-one chat with them to verify if the early church was telling the truth or not (Check this link out to read more). Was the message really true? Interestingly, Thomas who had strong doubts about the whole occurrence later cried out ‘My Lord and My God’ after he personally reached out and touched the wounds of the risen Savior. MY LORD AND MY GOD. It’s a very big deal considering the fact these words flew out of a skeptic’s mouth— Thomas. History records that Thomas preached the Gospel in India and Parthia and was later martyred by being thrust through with a spear. What at all in this world will make an avowed skeptic like him and a staunch Jew like Paul change their belief status even if it meant dying for the sake of the Gospel? It’s because they SAW the resurrected Christ! These were eyewitness testimonies—a very powerful tool that is very potent in the court of law, even today.

The Resurrection power of Christ is amazing and fulfilling but not so surprising in the sense that the one who defied nature by displaying His power over death isn’t just any ordinary being. Check out what Moses said in his prayer in Psalm 90:2:

“before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.

As a matter of fact, they (The Father, The Son and The Holy Spirit) were all present before the birth of space, matter and time. Since none of the persons in the Trinity came into Being in a certain time period, we don’t expect to portray Jesus as one who appeared along the way to do what He did on Earth. That’s why the scripture says, ‘for a child is BORN to us, a son is GIVEN to us’. Jesus is fully God and fully man, not half-half. “For unto us a child is born” reveals his full human nature and “For unto us a Son is given” reveals his full deity. In other words, the Son (Jesus) who preexisted with the Father even before the conception of time was a Gift given to us in the form of a human child. You see, Jesus wasn’t making any blasphemous statement when He said  in John 17:5, ‘…O Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with you BEFORE THE WORLD WAS.’ Even the phrase ‘before the world was’ goes on to suggest that Jesus is an uncreated everlasting Being who transcends time itself. Is it then surprising that Death and the grave was no match for such an extraordinary personality as Him?

Not only is Jesus the beginning, He is also referred to as the firstborn from the dead. The Bible records some instances where people were raised from the dead before the birth of Jesus [Lazarus, the son of the widow of Nain, the daughter of Jairus…] One thing was common to them all: they were going to (physically) die again at some point. So what makes this ‘firstborn from the dead’ title special then? It simply means Jesus is the first person to live, die and resurrect (bodily) from the grave never to die again! Never was He ever going to experience death. Halleluyah! Do you understand what you just read about the first born from the dead? Jesus Christ provides the opportunity to welcome a second born, a third born, a fourth born, as many as will respond to His call and entrust their lives into His care. And this is where I encourage others even as I encourage myself. We can’t escape the pain of losing a family member, a friend or a loved one. It really hurts. On 9th November, 2014 for instance, many people gathered in Grand Bahama for Dr. Myles Munroe’s ministry’s Global Leadership Forum. Unfortunately, the President and Founder of the Bahamas Faith Ministries International (BFMI) and Myles International (MMI) together with his wife and other passengers lost their lives in a plane crash on their way to the conference. There were no survivors. Also, just recently, a friend of mine lost someone very close to him. We may have lost some close people in our lives. I sometimes find it very hard to comfort people going through such kind of pain and suffering. I’m sometimes lost for words. Other times, I fight that quickness associated with the urge to relate not because I’m devoid of emotions; it’s the fact that I don’t want to end up tossing the real problem aside to make the victim feel like it’s one of those just-deal-with-it situations. But there’s one truth I can never hide from myself or anyone else. It’s that for now, it seems like those we’ve lost have been forever separated from us. But there’s hope in Christ. If God indeed raised Christ from the dead and made Him the firstborn from the dead, we have absolute confidence we will meet up with them one day (if they died in the Lord).I’m not trying to appeal to our emotions or speak in a manner just to make us feel good; this is the Word of God that is ever true. Isn’t it beautiful to know that as long as we trust His unfailing promises, though we may die (or ‘fall asleep’ as the Apostle Paul carefully states in his epistles), we shall rise to live again because HE lives? God lives FOREVER!

You can perfume a casket all you want but you can never hide its stench. Whatever’s in there will decay at a point, reek and everyone will get to know about it. It doesn’t take much effort to notice that. That’s how fake stuff works. They can’t be hidden forever. However, truth no matter how submerged or buried it is will  always stand firm and perpetuate throughout the ages. This is why the grave could not contain Jesus. You had TRUTH buried in there and you thought truth would forever be confined to the grave? That’s impossible! I love it so much when Darlene Zschech makes this profound declaration in her song, ‘The Victor’s Crown’:

At the cross the work was finished

You were buried in the ground

BUT THE GRAVE COULD NOT CONTAIN YOU

FOR YOU WEAR THE VICTOR’S CROWN

Truth HIMSELF broke free from the chains of death. That’s why when you come to know, accept and walk in ‘this’ truth, you also break free from every shackles, pain and bondage. You become FREE! Interestingly, History and Archaeology have successfully buried all attempts to label the Resurrection story as a hoax. The confidence Paul had in the Resurrection Story after seeing the resurrected Christ for himself was so much that he began to speak of people who were dead as being ‘asleep’. He was even bold enough to taunt ‘death’ with the words of the prophet Hosea, ‘Who got the last word, oh, Death? Who’s afraid of you now?’. This is the hope we have in Christ Jesus: Death does not have the final word anymore—Jesus does. He’s the gift of God who brings eternal life to anyone whose faith finds a resting place in Him. Jesus, You’re forever glorified because You wear the Victor’s Crown.

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