Revelation 1:9-20 – I Am Fully Alive

Notre Dame Cathedral Basilica in Ottawa, Canada

I, John, your brother and companion in the suffering and kingdom and patient endurance that are ours in Jesus, was on the island of Patmos because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus. On the Lord’s Day I was in the Spirit, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet, which said: “Write on a scroll what you see and send it to the seven churches: to Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea.”

I turned around to see the voice that was speaking to me. And when I turned I saw seven golden lampstands, and among the lampstands was someone like a son of man, dressed in a robe reaching down to his feet and with a golden sash around his chest. The hair on his head was white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire. His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters. In his right hand he held seven stars, and coming out of his mouth was a sharp, double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance.

When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. Then he placed his right hand on me and said: “Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. I am the Living One; I was dead, and now look, I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades.

“Write, therefore, what you have seen, what is now and what will take place later. The mystery of the seven stars that you saw in my right hand and of the seven golden lampstands is this: The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches. (New International Version)

“Let every man and woman count himself immortal. Let him catch the revelation of Jesus in his resurrection. Let him say not merely, ‘Christ is risen,’ but ‘I shall rise.’”

Phillips Brooks (1835-1893)

Easter Sunday may have come and gone, but the church remains in the season called “Eastertide,” which extends forty days until celebrating Christ’s ascension to heaven. This means that Easter is not just a one day affair; it is a joyous time of focusing on new life and exulting in the resurrected Lord. 

The Apostle John had a vision of the resurrected Jesus in his glory. Although John was quivering in his sandals, the Lord assured him that he need not be afraid. Christ is not dead but living.

Jesus is alive! Since Christ is risen, God’s people are united with him in his resurrection. That means the church is alive. Yes, the church is a-l-i-v-e, alive! 

The term “dead church” gets bantered around quite a bit these days. But that is really an oxymoron; a genuine Christ redeemed Body of believers cannot possibly be dead; they are alive! 

If a church is dead, it is not a church. It could be a country club, a benevolent organization, and even a moral institution, but a church is not a church if it is dead because Jesus is alive, and his Body is anything but dead.

Christians have life in Jesus Christ. We are alive forevermore because Jesus will never again die. So, then, we are to live as vigorous and vibrant believers. 

What things will you do differently since you know you cannot die? 

How will the knowledge of your eternal alive-ness impact you today and every day? 

The truth is: We have been raised with Christ to new life; we cannot die because death no longer has mastery over us. We can now live by faith in the Son of God who loved us and gave himself for us.

Just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.

For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin—because anyone who has died has been set free from sin.

Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God.

In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. (Romans 6:4-11, NIV)

“The glory of God is a person fully alive, and the life of a person is the vision of God.”

St. Irenaeus (130-202, C.E.)

Humanity’s alive-ness is what most fully displays the glory of God on this earth. Christ living within the believer is a powerful and potent manifestation of God’s goodness.

Whereas we may think that great miracles are the best sign of God’s presence and power in the world, the truth is that being full alive, and living into the new life we possess, is a bright light which shows the way of transformation to a fallen planet in the vice grip of sin, death, and hell.

God’s generosity, wisdom, and love are supremely viewed with the changed life of an individual. Living life to the full in this post-resurrection era, influences how we treat one another because we nobly honor our fellow humanity as people bearing the divine image of God.

We, therefore, in our alive-ness, seek to understand one another because we know that each person around us is worth understanding. Our being fully alive moves us to cultivate a virtuous life, knowing that a life well-lived is the best witness to God’s glory.

Believers raised with Christ are filled with joy, realizing that living is in itself a great good. We hope to carry this joy into the world and bear witness to the beauty of each human life.

O God, as people fully alive, make us bold in love, courageous in hope, and whole in faith. May the blessing of God almighty – Father, Son, and Spirit – be upon the Church everywhere, today and always, through Christ our risen Lord. Amen.

The Wonder of Christ’s Resurrection

Welcome, friends! In the New Testament Gospel of Luke 24:1-12, we find an account of women approaching the grave of Jesus, only to find an empty tomb. Today, people search for reality in all kinds of empty places. There is, however, hope, because Christ is risen! He is risen, indeed! Click the videos below and let us enjoy and be in awe that Jesus is alive!

Pastor Tim Ehrhardt, Luke 24:1-12

May the glory and the promise of this joyous time of year bring peace and happiness to you and those you hold most dear.

And may Christ, Our Risen Savior, always be there by your side to bless you most abundantly and be your loving guide. Amen.

Luke 24:1-12 – The Wonder of Christ’s Resurrection

Women at the empty tomb of Jesus encountering an angel

On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. 

While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: ‘The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’” Then they remembered his words.

When they came back from the tomb, they told all these things to the Eleven and to all the others. It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the others with them who told this to the apostles. But they did not believe the women, because their words seemed to them like nonsense. Peter, however, got up and ran to the tomb. Bending over, he saw the strips of linen lying by themselves, and he went away, wondering to himself what had happened. (New International Version)

“The message of Easter is that God’s new world has been unveiled in Jesus Christ and you’re now invited to belong to it.”

N.T. Wright

The disciples were stuck in the yesterday of Holy Saturday and the grief of Good Friday. Christ’s death was nothing but bad news, leaving them with an awful wondering about what could have been.

And now, an empty tomb. What does it mean? The disciples did not yet discern the reality and impact of what had happened. Their perplexity and curiosity eventually turned to a different kind of wondering: The amazement that Christ is alive! That Jesus has taken care of the sin issue once for all. That a new order is now in force that forever changes everything!

We, too, have the chance to be amazed and in wondrous awe over the resurrection of Jesus. Because the resurrection of Jesus is not just a doctrine to be believed; it is a powerful reality to be lived, and a source of eternal wonder and praise.

Women Arriving at the Tomb by He Qi

The Wonder of the Female Disciples

Do you wonder why women were the first disciples to encounter the empty tomb and the risen Lord?

Women are central to Luke’s resurrection account because women are central to the gospel. They play a significant role, along with men, in the ministry of the good news of Jesus. Within an ancient culture, and religious milieu, in which men were prominent and women were not regarded as reliable witnesses to anything, God used the female disciples as the very first witnesses of the empty tomb. 

Women now play an important part alongside men in ministry. 

This fact was not lost on the early church, who commissioned both men and women as apostles, serving in the highest ranks of the ministry. For example, Junia was a female apostle – an eyewitness of Christ’s life, ministry, and death, as well as a leader who helped build the Church. (Romans 16:7) 

If you ever “wonder” what role women ought to play in the church, the answer is: They ought to serve in the highest offices of leadership because the female disciples were prominent witnesses to the resurrection, on purpose.

The female disciples were curious about the empty tomb. While they were wondering about it, a couple of angels show up and ask them a question designed to lead them to a proper interpretation of Christ’s missing body:

“Why do look for the living among the dead?”

He Is Risen by He Qi

Many people today seek Jesus among the dead. They look for him in empty places.

Some look for Jesus in good ideas, as if knowledge or education save us. We may reason: If we have all the right information, express right belief, and sign-off on right doctrine, then we are okay. However, we are not saved by thoughts, even understanding, as if our brains are what deliver us from sin, death, and evil. We are saved by the person and work of Jesus Christ (Romans 6:1-23).

Many look for Jesus through their efforts, as if I can work my way into the good graces of God. We believe that action is the key. So, whenever we mess up, we seek penance by beating ourselves up, in some way, to somehow atone for the mistakes. However, Jesus finished the work! We participate with Christ in his death and resurrection through faith, not by works. We cannot do for ourselves what Christ has already done for us. Our “work” is to believe, and to be in wonder. (John 6:28-29)

Folks might search for Jesus in the heart – feeling that if our belief is sincere, if I’m basically a good person, if my heart is in the right place, that’s what matters. Yet, we are not saved through sincerity, or by warm-fuzzy feelings about God, as if our hearts save us.

Our hearts can be desperately wicked and are in need of redemption. Through repentance and faith, people find Jesus. Since Jesus is in the heart transplant business, you will find him wherever there are people with critically low heart function.

To find Jesus, in the ancient world, one needed to find the tax collectors, the lepers, the blind, the poor, or even a Roman Centurion. Today, if you want to find Jesus, he will still be found among the poor, the diseased, the refugee, the immigrant, the prisoner, and those who are despised by others.

The last place you would look, in Christ’s day, is with the religious leaders. And today, whenever we look for God to show up with all the answers and all the heart transformation in church, we then wonder why we cannot see Jesus. That’s because Jesus is not in the grave but, as the risen Christ, is out bestowing new life to the people with sick and hard hearts.

Why do you look for Jesus in church? Rather than asking Jesus to come to us, let’s go to where he is.

Since Christ is alive, we are alive.

We need not be perplexed about the empty tomb because Jesus is alive!  He is risen!  This reality is to impact our lives forever:

Since then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. (Colossians 3:1-4, NIV)

This is the gospel, the good news of Christ. It’s no secret. Jesus made this plainly known. The gospel is not insider news. It’s freely available to everyone. Early in his ministry Jesus said to his disciples:

“The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.” (Luke 9:22, NIV)

A few years later, before heading for Jerusalem, Jesus laid it out again for them:

“We are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written by the prophets about the Son of Man will be fulfilled. He will be delivered over to the Gentiles. They will mock him, insult him and spit on him; they will flog him and kill him. On the third day he will rise again.” (Luke 18:31-33, NIV)

The Wonder of Peter

The women hurried to tell the disciples. But the men were clueless; they didn’t believe the women. Peter, always the impetuous one, hurried to see the tomb for himself. He left wondering (thinking hard about) what all this empty tomb stuff means.

So, why (since the disciples were told what was going to happen) were they left wondering what in the world the empty tomb was all about? 

Its meaning was hidden from them. They did not know what Jesus was really talking about. But this would all change. After appearing to them…

Jesus opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. He told them, “This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.” (Luke 24:45-49, NIV)


Present-day Christians know of Christ’s redemptive events of cross, resurrection, ascension, and the giving of the Spirit at Pentecost. We do not need to wonder (be perplexed). We are clothed with power from on high to accomplish the mission of Christ on this earth.

We can now revel and rejoice in wonder and awe over the person and work of Jesus.  We possess forgiveness of sins, the Holy Spirit, and one another because of Christ’s mighty resurrection from death. 

Perhaps we need a newfound sense of wonder (awe) about Christ and his rising from death so that the resurrection of Jesus is not only a doctrine to believe, but a source of joy and wonder that impacts our daily lives.

Here are some ways we might cultivate a sense of wonder that will help us better connect with the risen Christ:

  • Watch kids play, learn, or do anything. Kids approach life with a sense of wonder. Everything is new, bright, and exciting – from being excited with a new toy to smiling at the simplest things – and even responding to Holy Scripture.
  • Read Scripture as if it were your first time. A great way to do this is to get together with someone or a group of people who aren’t familiar with the Bible. Spend some regular time reading through a book of God’s Word together, observing the wonder of the biblical characters.
  • Pay attention to God’s creation. All that we see is a window to the unseen. Whether taking a walk in nature, or traveling to other places, observe the changes of seasons and geography that elicits awe, reminding us of Christ’s resurrection.
  • Learn something new. Learn or rediscover a musical instrument. Research a topic you have always wanted to know something about. Take up a new hobby. Learn a new language. Doing anything new helps us to know new life in Christ better.

“Our Lord has written the promise of resurrection, not in books alone, but in every leaf in springtime.”

Martin Luther

All new life is wondrous and points to Easter, Resurrection Day. Whenever we lose our awe, we get stuck. Then, it’s hard to be excited about unseen spiritual realities. So, let us work at cultivating a sense of wonder so that the resurrection of Christ remains existentially fresh and alive.

Christ is risen!  Christ is risen, indeed!

Mark 16:1-8 – On Big Rocks and Even Bigger Questions

Deposition, Burial and Resurrection of Christ by Guy Roddon (1919-2006)

When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus’ body. Early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomband they asked each other, “Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?”

But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was exceptionally large, had been rolled away. As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed.

“Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.’”

Trembling and bewildered, the women went out and fled from the tomb. They said nothing to anyone because they were afraid. (NIV)

“Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance of the tomb?” So asked the three women on Resurrection Sunday when they came to anoint the dead body of Jesus. Turns out they didn’t need to find the security officers, so to speak, to come and unlock the door. The tomb was already open. What is more, lo and behold, the women did not find a dead body. Jesus was not there – he is risen!

I sometimes find myself asking the same kind of question the women were asking each other: 

Who will move this huge object (or objection!) to what I want to do? 

How can I get to Jesus so that I can do something for him? 

Who will take care of the immovable obstacles that stand in my way? 

I must admit, these are questions born more of a small faith and a limited understanding than of knowing the power of God.

It also turns out the plan the women had for taking care of Christ’s lifeless body was completely irrelevant. Which causes me to ask even more questions of myself:

Are my questions completely off the mark?

Do I have my ladder up against the wrong wall?

Is my plan of caring for Jesus an adventure in missing the point?

Is it Jesus who plans on showing up and caring for me?

Perhaps it all comes down to our expectations. The women were most certainly not expecting a risen Lord! They had absolutely zero expectation of encountering an angel who would tell them Jesus is alive. They did not anticipate their question would end up being completely unnecessary. 

Maybe believers and lovers of Jesus are asking a set of misguided questions based in our puny creature perspective on life, church, and world. Perhaps we are not grasping what God’s power has already accomplished and/or what God already has up his sleeve. 

It could be that all we really need to realize is that God has gone before us, clearing all impediments so that people can see and experience the risen Christ. Methinks our expectations are far too low for a God who has the power and will to raise people from death…. 

Because the way has been opened to a new and vital relationship with the Lord Christ. That massive immovable boulder has already been moved. Whereas we thought it was some big issue to deal with, just by showing up at the tomb we clearly see that isn’t the issue, at all.

“It means,” said Aslan, “that though the Witch knew the Deep Magic, there is a magic deeper still which she did not know. Her knowledge goes back only to the dawn of time. But if she could have looked a little further back, into the stillness and the darkness before Time dawned, she would have read there a different incantation. She would have known that when a willing victim who had committed no treachery was killed in a traitor’s stead, the Table would crack and Death itself would start working backward.”

C.S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

So, here I go again with another set of questions:

How many times have we gotten things all discombobulated in our heads and misinterpreted what’s going on just because we didn’t show up and find Jesus is not dead but alive?

When have we severely underestimated the power of God by believing we must operate in our own power and do things for God because Christ is as good as dead to us?

Are we still expecting Jesus to care about buildings, budgets, and butts in the pew because those things (we think) are within our power and control?

Do we even bother to ask Jesus what he cares about, or do we simply superimpose our wishes upon him as if they are his?

Are you yet sick and tired of me asking questions and offering no answers?

That’s because the answer is already there. Jesus is not where you are expecting him. There is power at work for which you are unaware.

The truth is that we can now encounter and explore a fresh reality with Jesus as the Author and Pioneer of our faith. We need only listen, follow, and leave the moving of big rocks to God.

When our faith stands at the grave, grieving for a stone that’s rolled away, forgive us, Lord. When our faith is short of understanding though the truth is there to see, forgive us, Lord. When our faith, beset by doubt, sees no further than an empty tomb today, forgive us, Lord. Bring to our minds the cry of Mary, “I have seen the Lord!” and grant us faith to believe! Amen.