“Resurrection Life Builds Faith”

 

April 23, 2017

The Second Sunday of Easter

Acts 2: 22 – 28/ Psalm 16/1 Peter 1: 3 - 9/ John 20: 19 - 31

 

Bishop Ariel Cornelio P. Santos

 

 

The Lord is present in this place.  This is holy ground.  He is present with us, amongst us, and wherever we have fellowship in His Name.  God is so good all time - between now and two years from now and beyond. Even in the past, God has been faithful, and He will continue to be good all the time.  Exciting things are ahead.  Greater things are yet to come, and we are invited to participate in these things that are happening.  

 

I like the gospel of John.  He starts it off with creation, and that how that in the beginning, everything was made through the Son, Jesus Christ. Apart from Him, nothing was made that was made.  John ends the gospel with Christ’s resurrection and the new creation.

 

The Garden of Eden was paradise. It was good; it was beautiful and God made it good.   Why not?  It was made through Jesus and so everything made through Jesus is beautiful and very good.  Man was given the responsibility to cultivate and keep it, and he failed.  In his failure, he dragged the whole of creation with him to futility.  The Godhead and all the angels thought that They needed to do something about it.  Jesus was sent to correct the situation.  Jesus went to earth, which was beautiful, but was marred and vandalized, and He corrected it.

 

We might think that of the Trinity, Jesus was chosen to suffer.  The Trinity is One.   What the Father is, the Son is, and the Holy Spirit is.  They all share the same divine nature. They may have different personalities, but they have one essence and one nature.  It is not like the Father is pictured as a CEO – detached, unfeeling, unconcerned, and apathetic –  sending an employee to do the dirty job for Him.  Jesus only does what He sees the Father doing.  The Cross, the forgiveness, the compassion for sinners and those who are need are done by the Father, and this is why Jesus did them.    

 

Jesus, as man, was the first to die to the old world, which is passing away, and He entered to resurrection and the life of the world to come.   He was ahead of all of us and we will follow Him. An author, named N.T. Wright says, “God will do for the whole cosmos what He did for Jesus at Easter; JC is the prototype of the new creation.”

 

If the gospel was a horror movie and somebody was tortured, betrayed, deserted, abandoned and killed, and came back from the dead, typically, the plot would be that there will be revenge from the person who was killed.  Jesus appeared to the apostles and went through walls.  We may think that they would be afraid because of what they did to Jesus and what Jesus would do to them.  To add to their anxiety, they were also afraid of the Jews.   Suddenly, Jesus opens His mouth, and He utters His first word coming from the resurrection, “Peace!”  The apostles rejoiced because Jesus was back to forgive them.  He is back from that world, from that new creation, from the new heaven and the new earth, from the life of the world to come and He comes back to them and shows them what that world is like in the very first word that He uttered.  He said, “Peace,” - the world to come that awaits His people.

 

Peace and forgiveness is what it is all about.  He utters these words to big talkers like Peter, to people who denied Him, to people who deserted Him, and to people who did not believe Him.  In doing so, in uttering peace to them, He directs them towards a destiny, which is Christlikeness.  This is what that life of the world to come looks like. 

 

Jesus told the apostles, “I am going and you cannot follow at this time, but I am going and where I am, there you will be also.”  This is our predestination, which can be read in the last two chapters of the Bible in Revelation. Jesus points us to this direction.  Psalm 16 says, “You have made known to me the path of life.”  The path of life starts with forgiveness.  Whose sins you forgive are forgiven; whose sins you retain are retained.  Jesus is stating a fact, not a choice.  If you do not forgive, you are holding the sin, but if you are headed towards this new life, this new world to come, then, you operate in peace and forgiveness.

 

Romans 8:29, “For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren.”  We are predestined to be conformed, one day, to the fullness of the image of the Son.  1John 3:2, “When He appears, we will be like Him.”  One day, we will find ourselves, as His Body, like Him.  Him first, then, all who are His because we will all be resurrected to the fullness of that life.  Jesus has opened heaven’s gates, and we are risen to a holier state; that where He is, there we may be also.  I am not talking about a place, but a holier state, the divine nature that we are to be partakers of.  1 Corinthians 15:2 says, “For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive.”    We are resurrected so that we can be prepared for that new creation, the life of the world to come that we look forward to.

 

Jesus said, “As the Father sent Me, so I send you.”  This is our mission.  As He has been sent to direct people to the path of life, so, we who have been taught are also sent to show the path of life to those who don’t know it yet.

 

One of my old time favorite classic movies from 1985 is “Back to the Future.”  The character of Marty Mcfly was taken from the present, 1985, and taken 20 years back to 1965.  His mission was to show his father the path of life for the future was looking bleak and gloomy.  Marty was to teach his father, representing man, how to behave in the “now” so that he is heading to the right future that awaits.   Think of Marty Mcfly as God showing us that He doesn’t interfere with our free will, but He influences and teaches us toward the path of life.   The father faced his challenger and the future turned right for him and for his children.  His children and his dependents were thankful about him behaving the way he needed to behave.    

 

This is what Jesus is doing right now.  He opened heaven’s gates for us.  He comes from there and He is the only One who has entered it. He comes back to us, points us from our deviation (the situations and the challenges we have in life) and He teaches us to conquer them.  He directs us to the right path, to our destination.   We would do well to heed what He tells and teaches us.

 

As Jesus was sent to do this, we, who have been shown the path of life, also are sent to show others the path of life.  We are citizens of this Kingdom; we are citizens of heaven.  We have been hurled into that future, but sent back to the here and now because Jesus comes to claim the here and now and conquer every place and time until He has led everyone to that new earth and the new heaven and new creation – the life of the world to come that we look for.

 

When Adam sinned, he dragged creation to futility and the curse.  Creation is dependent on us.  All creation longs for the revelation of the sons of God.  If we act like the sons of God that we were created to be, we would affect creation, and they will be freed from their slavery and their futility.  The good news is that the Second Adam is a perfect Gardener, Cultivator and Keeper of the new restored Eden. The Second Adam, who will not fail to cultivate and keep the new Eden, will now successfully multiply and fill the earth with His kind.  One by one, we will all be conformed to His image one day, and the new helpmeet of the Second Adam is the Church. Now, you and I, together with Him, will multiply and fill the earth with restored humanity.

 

This is the reason for us resurrecting with Him, sitting us in the heavenly places with Him.  It is not because we are the chosen few or we are special, but it is so that we can see what is up there.  In Colossians 3, St. Paul encourages us, “Now that You have been seated with Christ in the heavenly places, look to the things above, not on the things on earth that are passing away.”   We have been shown this so that we, who have seen this, can guard and lead others accordingly.

 

This is the principle behind in what Amos said in chapter 3 verse 7, “Surely the Lord God does nothing Unless He reveals His secret counsel To His servants the prophets.”   God reveals His secrets to His prophets, so that they can be sent and they can proclaim His secret things.  They are God’s mouthpieces. 

 

When our former Patriarch, Bishop Adler, was talking about the consecration of the Bishop, he said that it was an elevation to the Office of the Bishop, which means, not looking up to the person, but for the Bishop to see, from a higher point of view, the path of life to guide the people.  This is the idea of the watchmen from the watchtower – getting a better view and being shown things to help others who don’t see the right direction.

 

Ephesians 6:1 says, “Children are to obey their parents,” because the parents have seen and have gone through the path of life that their children are going through.   We all have been hurled into the future, made citizens of heaven, sitted on high and sent back to the here and now as representatives and ambassadors of the kingdom of God.  We have been equipped to direct others so that they also can be headed that way. 

 

We, the sons of God and the Resurrection, are to perform healings, signs and wonders to give the people who don’t know the future Kingdom a glimpse of it.  What is it all about?  It is not about magic, but compassion on people who are sick and needy and ministering to them.  When we do these things, we give others a glimpse of what we all anticipate and look forward to – a foretaste. Just like the Eucharist is a foretaste of that heavenly banquet, so are the healings, signs and wonders are a foretaste of Kingdom come.

 

It is all part of the restoration of all things. In that eventual life, the victory of life will be ordinary, permanent and eternal.  Through us, who have been sent back to the here and now, Jesus claims it and conquers every place and time so that eventually, He is all in all.

 

In the blessing of this chapel, it doesn’t mean that we will all have religious activities.  We bless something because we reserve it for until the day of the restoration of all things.  We gain ground, and we continue to have activities in such places with hallowed human activities.  This is the same thing that we will be doing in the life of the world to come.  It is basically worship because everything we do must be worship unto God.  The song says, “His Spirit burns through this and every future age till all creation lives and learns His joy, justice, love and praise.” All hallowed human activities.  In 1Peter 1:3-9, St. Peter says, “We have been born-again to a sure and living hope through the resurrection to obtain an inheritance for a salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.”   We have an inheritance to a sure and living hope, but in the meantime, we conquer our challenges. “Even though now, for a little while, you have been distressed by trials…resulting in praise, glory, honor and salvation for your souls.” 

 

We are on our way to that destiny because Easter is the dawn of a new reality.  This is out of a line from the song we sing “Christ is Alive, We Live in Him.”   “Daily within, He sets us free. Dawn of a new reality. Promise of all that soon will be, Hallelujah!”   The restoration of all things is a sure promise from God!   Be not unbelieving, but believing.  Believing simply means participating.  The song continues to say, “Freedom and joy where death had been. Join as the dance of life begins!”   The dance of life begins at Resurrection.  All we need to do is to join, to participate in it. 

 

Jesus said, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.”  God is in the business of restoring all things.  Pray that the Lord of the Harvest will send more workers into the harvest.  When we hear of harvest, the first thing that comes to our mind is not the work, but the profit and the benefit.  Pray that God sends more workers into the harvest so that they may share in the joy of the harvest.  It is not heavy lifting, the hard work, but the joy of harvest because there is enough to go around.  God’s abundance is more than enough.  Pray that more workers would join in the dance of life.  It has begun on Easter morning.  God wants more to receive the joy of His salvation.  This is why He says, “Peace be with you. Your sins are forgiven. Go and forgive sins yourself,” because this is the way it is in the kingdom of our God.   

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