One of the things that my wife Tammy enjoys about living in the Midwest is the opportunity to enjoy the four seasons. While I might prefer the climate of San Diego, she enjoys experiencing each of the four seasons, especially the new life of spring, and the beautiful colors of fall. Even in the days leading up to spring, we could already see the green of bulbs pushing up through the soil, perennials coming back to life, buds on our trees, and our grass turning green.
In a way, spring corresponds so much with Easter, as our creation seems to be resurrecting daily before our eyes. That gives me hope after a long and cold winter, which featured a major ice storm. In his new book Hope in Times of Fear, Tim Keller tells us that what Christianity offers a world that has lost hope is the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, which Christians celebrate on Easter, but which should be foremost in our thoughts each day. Continue reading
Our Father in Heaven,
The “Apostle’s Creed” tells us that Jesus, after suffering under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried, but on the third day He rose again. You raised Him from the dead (Acts 3:15) and He is at your right hand, interceding for us at this very moment.
This morning, my pastor will say to us, “He is risen”, and we will respond, “He is risen indeed!”. What a joyful truth that is!
On that glorious morning, the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and Mary, the mother of James and Salome, took spices to the tomb where Jesus had been buried. There was a great earthquake and an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and rolled back the stone. But Jesus was not there, for He had risen.
The angel up on the tombstone
Said He has risen, just as He said
Quickly now, go tell his disciples
That Jesus Christ is no longer dead
(“The Easter Song” by Annie Herring)
The Apostle Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 15:17 that if Christ has not been raised, our faith is futile and we are still in our sins. But on this Resurrection Sunday, we rejoice that He has been raised.
There in the ground His body lay,
Light of the world by darkness slain;
Then bursting forth in glorious day,
Up from the grave He rose again!
And as He stands in victory,
Sin’s curse has lost its grip on me;
For I am His and He is mine—
Bought with the precious blood of Christ.
(“In Christ Alone” by Keith Getty and Stuart Townend)
If we confess Jesus is Lord and believe in our heart that You raised Him from the dead, we will be saved. (Romans 10:9). And just as you raised Christ from the dead, you will also raise us in your power. (1 Corinthians 6:14).
(Russ Taff – “Ain’t No Grave – Live”)
So, on this resurrection morning, we say rejoice in the Lord always; again, I will say, rejoice! (Philippians 4:4)
In Jesus precious name we pray, Amen
Risen is a well-made Christian film that would be a good one to watch with family and friends this Easter weekend.
This 2016 film, directed and co-written (with Paul Aiello) by Kevin Reynolds (The Count of Monte Cristo, Waterworld), gives us a different perspective on the greatest story ever told. The crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus (here referred to as Yeshua, well-portrayed by Cliff Curtis) is told through the eyes of a skeptic. And while I tend to be wary of faith-based films due to their often emotional manipulation and lack of quality, the trailer for this film had reflected that it might be a step above the norm in this genre. After seeing the film, I found it, with a budget of $20 million, to be well-acted with good use of scenery and sets, and an effective musical score. And unlike 2014’s Noah and Exodus: Gods and Kings, Christians will find that it respects the biblical account of the death and resurrection of Christ.
The film, set in Judaea in 33 A.D., takes the point of view of a fictional character Clavius, a powerful Roman Military Tribune, who we see praying to his gods, played by Joseph Fiennes (who has played Martin Luther in 2003’s Luther, and will portray runner/missionary Eric Liddell in the upcoming film On Wings of Eagles). Clavius serves under and is often summoned to the presence of Pontius Pilate, played by Oscar nominated actor Peter Firth. He is driven by ambition, and seeks power and wealth, telling Pilate that he desires “an end to travail, a day without death, peace.”
The film begins with Clavius’ troops brutally defeating Jewish rebels. Pilate then summons Clavius about a Nazarene leader (Yeshua) who has claimed to be God. He is being crucified and Pilate tells him to quickly finish the work because the Emperor is coming for a visit. We see a sword pierce Yeshua’s side, and Clavius watch him die before turning the body over to Joseph of Arimathea for burial in a private tomb.
Since there are rumors Yeshua will rise from the dead, and the Jewish leaders fear his followers will steal his body and claim that he rose, Clavius seals the tomb and assigns two soldiers to guard it. When the body is missing from the tomb on the third day, Pilate orders Clavius and his assistant Lucius (Tom Felton, best known for his role as Draco Malfoy in the Harry Potter films), to quickly find the body and end the rumors of Yeshua’s resurrection.
The film, which moves at a slow pace, follows Clavius’ search for Yeshua’s body as he interrogates Mary Magdalene (Maria Botto) and Bartholomew (Stephen Hagan) and encounters Peter (Stewart Scudamore). As his investigation proceeds, we begin to see Clavius changing.
I thoroughly enjoyed this well-made telling of the story of the days before and after the death of Christ. The violence at the beginning of the film and some disturbing images of dead bodies earn the film its PG-13 rating. Risen is available on DVD and video streaming outlets. Enjoy it with family and friends this Easter weekend.