Truly, He is Risen and is Reigning

Truth matters and the truth is this: Jesus died and now is alive. The body that went into the tomb came out different and Jesus ascended to God where He rules.

He defeated death to become High King, not just to win a victory over death. He earned the right to be King of Kings and Lord of Lords by divine descent and by human conquest. He finished His earthly work to ascend Heavenly rule.

Jesus defeated death through life. He overcame hate with love. Jesus did not come on Christmas, live, do miracles, suffer, die, harrow Hell, and rise from the dead for nothing. He came to finish the work and the work was to restore the relationship between God and humankind.

His work is done in the sense that no more is needed to make it so, but is only fully completed from our perspective when His Kingdom comes and His will is done on Earth as it is in Heaven.

May prayers will be answered “yes” in the City of God that apparently have received no answer yet. If you do not believe prayer accomplishes anything, this truth will not persuade you, but for the vast majority of us who know prayer works, this is even better news. We do not just pray for now, but for the world to come and in that world all good prayers are answered “yes.”

King Jesus has all the power and the will to make goodness, truth, and beauty fall down on us like rain. This Easter we will praise King Jesus, because King Jesus deserves praise!

We are not making God do things, as if we could bribe the Almighty or manipulate Him with worship. We are allowed to participate in His plan. We are like small children allowed by a loving parent to decide what color the room will be. Of course, God wants us to achieve human adulthood, but compared to the Omnipotent, we are all children in knowledge!

We want what is best. He knows what is best and so we pray “Thy will be done” and then we can thank Him, because that will is coming. Every pleasure we ever asked to receive will be received in Paradise, even if the manner we asked to receive it in was wrong headed. Most kids who pray for a pony shouldn’t get one, but in Paradise all the joy that could have been, the joy that the child imagined would come from the pony, will be there in a pure and undefiled form.

And so Jesus began the three holy days (Holy Thursday, Friday, and Saturday) by praying (as we should): “Not my will, but Thine be done.” He took the cup and drank it, the brew prepared by human sinfulness over all time. Humankind tormented the Son of Glory, but God willed good from our evil. We chose badly, God chose to transform that bad choice to great goodness. At the cross, Jesus wrenched the evil we have done from leading all of us to hell and opened a highway to Heaven.
Having done this, Jesus righted wrong, harrowed hell, and prepared a paradise for anyone who wishes to go. All Hail King Jesus! He is risen, He is risen in truth! Hallelujah!

A tomb is silhouetted against an early morning sky at an Easter Sunrise Service in 2008. (The Times-Picayune archives)

He is risen, indeed!

Christians around the world recognize Easter as the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, nearly 2,000 years ago.

Subjected the previous Friday to the vilest, most tortuous death the Romans had devised, Jesus had died and been sealed up in a tomb, where His body lay and where his followers — who had forgotten or misunderstood His promise to overcome death — expected to find Him when they returned there following the Jewish Sabbath to anoint Him with oils and give His body proper treatment.

But the promise of new life in Christ that His followers embrace even today revealed itself in a mighty way when the stone covering the tomb’s entrance was miraculously rolled away to reveal that the Savior had kept His promise, had overcome death and promised eternal life in glory to those who would believe in Him.

This is the account of the resurrection of Christ found in the 20th chapter of the Gospel of John, who was one of the first to find the empty tomb on that first Easter morning.

1 Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance. 2 So she came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, and said, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!”

3 So Peter and the other disciple started for the tomb. 4 Both were running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. 5 He bent over and looked in at the strips of linen lying there but did not go in. 6 Then Simon Peter came along behind him and went straight into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there, 7 as well as the cloth that had been wrapped around Jesus’ head. The cloth was still lying in its place, separate from the linen. 8 Finally the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went inside. He saw and believed. 9 (They still did not understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead.) 10 Then the disciples went back to where they were staying.

11 Now Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb 12 and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot.

13 They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?”

“They have taken my Lord away,” she said, “and I don’t know where they have put him.” 14 At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus.

15 He asked her, “Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?”

Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.”

16 Jesus said to her, “Mary.”

She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means “Teacher”).

17 Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”

18 Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: “I have seen the Lord!” And she told them that he had said these things to her.

— John 20: 1-18

The truly Good News of Easter: He is risen

Cadbury, the British multinational candy and confections company known for its chocolate eggs and bunnies, created a bit of a ruckus this month when it decided to remove the word "Easter" from the title of its popular egg hunts hosted at 250 sites around in England, Scotland and Ireland. The hunts are expected to attract 350,000 children over the three-day weekend.

In previous years the company had marketed the events as "Easter Egg Trail." But this year it has been renamed the "Great British Egg Hunt."

A spokesman for the Church of England accused the company of "airbrushing faith from Easter."

The Archbishop of York said the decision to remove the word Easter from the egg hunt logo was tantamount to "spitting on the grave" of John Cadbury, the chocolate firm's founder.

"The Cadburys were Great Quaker industrialists," the archbishop said. "If people visited Birmingham today in the Cadbury World they will discover how Cadbury's Christian faith influenced his industrial output."

The current owners of Cadbury said they just wanted to appeal to non-Christians: "We invite people from all faiths and none to enjoy our seasonal treats." The website advertising the egg hunts does have a banner urging visitors to "Enjoy Easter Fun," makes references to the "Easter holidays," and mentions the "Easter bunny" along with its many "Easter products."

Cadbury experienced some customer backlash last year when it began selling "Milk Chocolate Eggs," with the word "Easter" moved from the front of the packaging to the back.

But, if you are thinking of organizing a boycott, be aware that the company is owned by Mondelez International in Chicago, and is the conglomerate result of various mergers and acquisitions that include Kraft Foods, Philip Morris and RJR Nabisco. It makes Oreos, Chips Ahoy, Chiclets, Honey Maid Graham crackers, Dentyne, Ritz and Premium crackers, Fig Newtons, Philadelphia cream cheese, Wheat Thins, Triscuits and Tang. That's along with the Cadbury chocolate and more.

David Marshall, CEO of the Meaningful Chocolate Company, a much smaller competitor that makes "religious Easter eggs," told The Telegraph that he was "shocked to see a rival to Good Friday being set up."

"This is an industrial operation to effectively replace Jesus with the Cadbury bunny while luring children and families away from celebrating the Crucifixion and Resurrection of Jesus," he told the national newspaper.

A "War on Easter"? Not exactly. Like the "War on Christmas," this is just secular commercialism seeking to co-opt a community celebration for profit. And what do eggs and bunnies have to do with the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus anyway?

I've always liked comedian Jim Gaffigan's theory that it was created by a man who had had a little too much to drink.

Woman: "Easter, the day Jesus rose from the dead. What should we do?"

Drunk man: "How 'bout eggs?!"

Woman: "Well, what does that have to do with Jesus?"

Drunk man: "All right ... we'll hide 'em."

Woman: "I don't ... I don't follow your logic."

Drunk man: "Don't worry, there's a bunny."

Forget whether the name of Easter is attached. The bunny -- the public and commercial events of Easter -- has become a non-sequitur distraction. Who needs to wage war when so many are surrendering?

But for many of the more than 2 billion Christians around the world -- even those who enjoy the trappings of Easter eggs, Easter bunnies, Easter bonnets, Easter brunch -- there is a message that actually makes sense:

Don't worry, there is Good News. There is a savior.

"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life." -- John 3:16

"For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures ..." 1 Corinthians 15:3-4

"But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared. And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men stood by them in dazzling apparel. And as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, 'Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen.'" Luke 24:1-6

He is risen, indeed. Happy Easter.

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