14 April 2023 Anno Domini, the Anglican Orthodox Communion Worldwide
“Break forth into joy, sing together, ye waste places of Jerusalem: for the LORD hath comforted his people, he hath redeemed Jerusalem. The LORD hath made bare his holy arm in the eyes of all the nations;and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God.”
(Isaiah 52:9-10; all scripture quoted is from the King James Version)
Having celebrated our Passover in Christ on Easter Sunday, our joy was made full in contemplation of that great sacrifice and suffering of our Lord on the Good Friday of 2000 years ago. The above passage from Isaiah reflects that joy brought to the brim at the conquering of both death and hell by our glorious Lord at the moment of His resurrection.
We have often considered the terrible pain and suffering of Christ as described in the 22nd Psalm – a Messianic Psalm – but we may not have considered the latter half of that Psalm that illustrates the joy of the Resurrection.
The 22nd Psalm begins: “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring? These are the very same words Jesus uttered on the cross near the ending of His passion at the ninth hour: “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” Matthew 27:46 The sad lament of Christ continues in the Psalm until, at the 22nd verse, the entire tone and tenor of the Psalm abruptly breaks out into a celebration of victory. “I will declare thy name unto my brethren:in the midst of the congregation will I praise thee.” From thenceforth is depicted the glory of the victory of the cross for us and the resurrection of the Firstborn of the Dead – our Lord Jesus Christ.
There are blessed benefits contained in that title – the Firstborn of Every Creature. Just as we die to self in Christ, so He died for us. Just as we take up our crosses daily, we follow Him to that cross of dying. Bugt our following does not end at the dying to self. We follow to a borrowed tomb in which He was laid just as the borrowed tomb shall be in which we are laid.
Still, our following does not end there at that tomb – we shall follow Him in resurrection to eternal life. He was the Creator of all living at the beginning of Creation (see John 1:1-4) and He was the Firstborn to eternal Life which means we shall follow in that resurrection life.
Paul makes this very clear in the following text: “Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sin” Colossians 1:12-15:
Every soul is immortal in the sense that it continues after death – either to resurrection life, or into the legacy of the earth and Hell. If we are to follow Christ in /Resurrection, we must follow Him up to the moment of death. Christ makes this very clear to Martha outside the tomb of Lazarus at Bethany: “Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this? John 11:25-26 What does this mean?
It means precisely what it says – all who are dead who believed in the Lord shall lie eternally with Him; and those who believe while they yet live shall never truly die – but the faith must be evidenced while life remains.
The life of the Christian is not a bed of roses in this world. Men will shun, ridicule, and persecute you if you truly live the faith you profess. You will see the wicked about you who seem to prosper since they do not live by the same laws and principles of the Godly. We are bound by the considerations of honor, duty, and love while they have no limits to constrain their behavior. This is evident in every phase of life, whether business, politics, or, sadly, even the Church. But, even so, we have something they do not possess – peace of mind and the satisfaction that derives from duty faithfully performed in the service of our Lord. And that benefit is something the wicked cannot look forward to. Knowing, instinctively, that there is a just God, they grab all the pleasures and riches possible in the life and throw caution to the life to come (to their everlasting detriment).
To which party would you prefer to belong?