Sunday, April 1, 2018

An Easter Hymn - Christ the Lord is Risen Today!

1 Corinthians 5:6-8
Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our paschal lamb, has been sacrificed. Let us therefore, celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

Themes touched upon by the Hymn "Christ the Lord is Risen Today"

First stanza: Christ is risen, therefore sing! 
Second stanza: The grave has lost its victory.
Third stanza: Love's redeeming work is done; Christ has              opened Paradise.
Fourth stanza: Following our exalted Head, like him we rise.

General Approach

In the hymn "Christ the Lord is Risen Today," the keynote of praise is sounded again and again. The beautiful lilies in church on Easter morning symbolize the message of joy and happiness and eternal life that comes to us. When we think of the bulb from which the Easter lily grows, we realize that the bulb was not dead in the sense of having no life at all. For that reason, even though there are many lilies and other symbols of the joy and the beauty of the resurrection, these things in themselves do not prove that there is a life after death. 

We speak about life after death in human beings we assume, first of all, that a corpse is dead, in contrast to a bulb which is not dead. We realize that when a person is dead there is no life in him. This realization forces us to come to a clear understanding of the significance of Easter--that Easter is more than a festival of spring. Easter proclaims new life. Easter is grounded in something different from anything found in nature which reveals renewal. Easter is the celebration of the resurrection of Christ from the dead.

Let us turn again to the account in the Holy Scriptures about the death of Jesus Christ. The death of Jesus Christ was a real deal. He died mentally and spiritually and physically when he was crucified on Calvary. His resurrection therefore is truly from the dead. He arose on the third day. Therefore Wesley says, "Sing "Alleluia.'" This is a great event. Christ is risen from the dead. Death has lost its sting!

As a consequence of the fact that Christ is risen, death has lost its sting. 

While we mourn our loved ones who are lost and we miss them, yet the sting is gone. Those who believe in God through Jesus Christ are given new life and power by the resurrection; therefore, death has lost its sting. We feel that there is life beyond this world. A man who lost his loved one felt his separation from his loved one very keenly. He understood that life would not be the same any more, and yet he felt happy that his loved one was in heaven, that his loved one would be happy there for all eternity. In that sense death lost its sting for him, and he felt joyful as he thought not of himself but of his loved one who had gone before.

When a friend died, Peter Marshall, a Presbyterian pastor and chaplain of the United States Senate, commented, "I wonder what thrilling experience she's having at this very moment." After Marshall himself died, his wife wrote that she imagined that he had found the answer to his question. He very well may have rejoiced to find that Paradise is open. A great new world has been put before us, a finer, more beautiful world than anything that we have here on earth. Truly Paradise is open.

Each of the stanzas of the hymn actually gives us the Easter message, "Like Him we rise."

As Jesus arose, we too shall live. Once when a man came out the church door after the Easter service, as he shook hands with the pastor he said, "Thank you for the message." Then he added, "Of course, I don't believe the message but I thank you for giving it." It so happened that not very many weeks afterwards this man's wife passed away. As they were making arrangements for the funeral services, the man said to the minister, "Now I've got to believe what you said in your sermon last Easter. Would you say that again at the funeral services?" The Easter message is relevant. It has a practical application to us all. Easter is not a mere occasion for a ceremony; it is not merely a day for beauty and decoration. Easter is concerned with a very essential truth, with eternal life: "Like Him, we rise."

Therefore we need to have this message of Easter close to our hearts--that even in our unconscious minds. in our basic feelings and thoughts, we catch the vital importance of it and feel that "Christ the Lord is risen today, Alleluia!... Where, O Death, is now thy sting?...Christ has opened Paradise...Like Him we Rise." Let us have this faith, and let us reassure ourselves of this faith so that we may be strong in His spirit and feel the relevance of this belief in our daily life. 

Jesus Has Risen -Vittorio Bianchini 

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