He’s in the World Today
Easter Sunday, Year B
April 20, 2003
Jim Killen, A minister of the United Methodist Church, Beaumont, TX
“I serve a risen savior. He’s in the world today.” That is really the main point of the Easter message – and it is great good news. Too often, when we think of Jesus rising from death, we think of him going to heaven – and we usually think of heaven as some place far away. It would be better if we would think of Jesus going to be with God. God is still at work in our world and in our lives – and so is Jesus. That is great good news.
Some Bible scholars tell us that Mark originally ended his gospel where our reading for today ended. The women had found the tomb of Jesus empty. An angel had appeared to them and told them that Jesus had been raised and that he would meet his disciples back in Galilee. The women ran away in terror and amazement. Evidently some later editor added another ending that reported some of the first resurrection appearances of Christ as the other three gospels do. But the passage from Paul’s letter to the Corinthians tells us even more. Paul tells us that Jesus appeared many times to many people and that much later he appeared to Paul and changed his life. Paul was telling us that the Jesus, who once lived among us as a man and did saving works among us, is still living among us, still doing those same saving works, wherever God is – and God is everywhere. Try to stretch your mind to imagine what that can mean to you.
I. Jesus came to show us God’s love and to be God with us. God still loves us. God is still with us.
The story of the birth of Christ shows us that the eternal God who created all things cares enough for us to act in a costly way for our salvation. God came, in Jesus, to be “God with us”. God shows us his great love for us in that he was willing even to experience death on a cross for us.
God is still loving us. God is still with us. When we feel worthless and unworthy, we can know that there is someone who loves us – and it is the one who counts. You have a new identity, you are a beloved child of God. And when you feel that you have been rejected or beaten, or when you are up against some challenge that is too big for you, you can know that you are not alone. There is someone who is there with you.
We can experience his presence through our relationships with caring people, and especially through the fellowship of the Church. “He’s in the world today.”
II. Jesus came making people whole, and he still does.
Jesus reached out to people and related to each of them in ways appropriate to their own need to make them whole. He healed some who were suffering injuries or spiritual and physical sicknesses and made them whole. He also forgave the guilty, humbled the arrogant, encouraged those who had been beaten down and caused those who had messed up their lives to look for a better way to put life together. He did what was needed to help people come to full and meaningful lives.
We all have to cope with bad experiences that break us and oppress us. But there are always other experiences in our lives that heal and encourage and forgive and affirm. Christ is there in those experiences. And Christ works through the Church to help people find their way to wholeness. “He’s in the world today.”
III. Jesus came offering a new possibility to people and to all humankind.
Jesus came preaching the good news that “the kingdom of heaven is at hand” and calling people to be ready to change and to be receptive to it.
That new possibility is still a possibility for us today. When our lives are not what we want them to be, when we realize that all of the things our culture has told us about how to build a good life were wrong, when things start falling apart for us, there is another possibility. We can start over and put our lives together in the way that Jesus taught us to, building upon God’s love and God’s promise, committed to God’s purpose for us and for our world. That new possibility will work. We will be surprised to find that it leads us into a truly good and happy life in this world and that it puts us in touch with a source of hope for eternity. That is possible for us because “He’s in the world today.” The risen Christ is alive and at work in many ways in every aspect of life in this world, but he is especially present and at work through the church. Lots of people have lost confidence in what they call “organized religion” today. It is true that lots of disappointing things have happened to cause that. But the vast majority of people in the church are still honestly committed to the work of God. They function as the body of Christ in the world. Through them, Christ works to reach out in love, to help, to heal, to show the way to a new possibility. Not only in the church – but certainly in the church – “He’s in the world today.”
IV. Jesus came offering a new possibility for the whole world – and he still does.
We can look around and see our world falling apart because of the loss of human values and morality, exploitation, corruption, and injustice causing famine, oppression and wars and every kind of human suffering. When these things make our hearts ache, we can know that there is hope for our world. God is still at work in our world trying to teach the world to love just as he was in Jesus. “He’s in the world today.”
And you may find yourself being called to become a part of the hope of the world. Jesus called people to follow him and participate in the work he was doing. Is there something you should be doing? Is there someone you should tell about the good news of God’s new possibility? Is there something you should be doing to build a better world? Jesus called people to follow him. He may be calling you. If he is, don’t be afraid to answer. “He’s in the world today.”
It is interesting how Paul told the resurrection story to the Christians at Corinth. He first remembered the facts that Jesus had died for our sins and was buried and on the third day he was raised. He recalls the times when the risen Christ appeared to others. Then he remembers that the risen Christ appeared to him and changed his life and made him a servant of the way he had once persecuted. Finally, he reminds the Corinthians that it is their faith in the resurrection that has brought them to fullness of life. They were now representing the risen Christ because they were parts of the Church, the body of Christ. There have been lots of other chapters to that resurrection story. Your life can be part of that story. “He is in the world today.”