4-16-23 Where is the Risen Christ?

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Where is the Risen Christ?

I want to start with something funny that I found on an internet site: It says, “I was at the beach with my children when my four-year-old son ran up to me, grabbed my hand, and led me to the shore, where a seagull lay dead on the sand. “Mommy, what happened to him?” the little boy asked. “He died and went to heaven,” I replied. My son thought a moment and then said, “And God threw him back down?”

When I was not a Christian, I used to think of Christians as being foolish. I did not try to learn about God and did not want to hear what Christians had to say at all. When I was in the hospital with a broken spine from a car accident, I met a girl in the same room as me in the hospital. She was also involved in a car accident. Her injuries were more severe than mine. She had broken her spine as well as both legs. However, while I was depressed and losing hope in being able to walk again, she was always positive and smiled. I thought she might be out of her mind because of a serious brain injury.

One day I realized that she was a Christian with strong faith. I told her, “If you are a Christian, you must complain to God because He did not protect you from that accident.” But, she told me, “I do not complain to God because I got into an accident because God’s promise is to be with me always, not to protect me from any accident. Even though I can’t walk, I am fine because God is with me.” I could not understand her feeling this way at first. After spending more than six months in the same hospital room with her, I began to be curious about God. While I was feeling fear, anxiety, and hopelessness, she was hopeful, without doubt and worry. How could God make her like that? Do you know what is different between her and I was? She was with the risen Jesus Christ, and I, of course, was not. If you are with the risen Christ, you have no fear, anxiety, or depression. One day I met a pastor who visited her, and asked him to pray for me because I wanted to meet the God who she met.

Many things happened in this last week. We went through Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Sunday. In other words, we entered Jerusalem with Jesus likely in the same manner as a king, waiving palm leaves on Palm Sunday; we experienced washing our hands, imagined having our feet washed by our Lord Jesus on Maundy Thursday; and then, we lost our Lord Jesus who was nailed to the cross on good Friday; however, we knew Jesus Christ has risen for us, and we celebrated the risen Christ on the Easter morning; We were more excited on Easter morning than Palm Sunday, and now what? Where does the risen Jesus go? Is the risen Jesus with you now, or is he gone again?

On the evening of the first Easter, in which Jesus was resurrected, the disciples were full of fear for the Jews if they hid Jesus’ body and accused them of taking his body. So, they gathered together and locked the door. Even though Mary Magdalene told them that Jesus had been resurrected and that she had seen him, they couldn’t believe it. They thought about where his body was because they saw his empty tomb. We think of Thomas, a doubting disciple. He wasn’t the only one who was questioning the resurrection, but all the disciples didn’t believe it yet.  Without Christ, their Lord, teacher, Master, and leader, physically and spiritually being there, they were like sheep without a shepherd.

However, the risen Jesus came to them again and said, “Peace be with you.” Jesus came, giving the Spirit of Peace to his fearful disciples.  He breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” It is like “God formed humans from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the human became a living being” (Genesis 2:7). The disciples who lost their Master and Lord were like the dead. Such as the deceased, the disciples were changed to “the living being.” When Jesus was back, their fear was gone.

The risen Christ came to them again with the Holy Spirit. In other words, he returned to them as “ a living being”  and gave his disciples the living spirit to be living beings without fear, anxiety, or depression. Through the Holy Spirit, they were totally changed: Doubting disciples to believing disciples; fearful disciples to fearless disciples. They lost their Master and Lord, but met him again.

Jesus came back to his disciples after eight days again for Thomas. As you know, when Jesus came to his disciples at first, Thomas was not there, and he didn’t believe what the other disciples witnessed. And, he came back to them for Thomas, showing him his wounded hands and side. Thomas was also changed, confessing, “My Lord and my God.” Our Lord didn’t ignore and miss even one person. If you doubt faith, Jesus may come to you even in your dreams. If you fear for any reason, please hold our Lord Jesus’ wounded hands and side, and pray, saying, “O Lord, come to me and give me faith instead of fear.”

While working in a hospital as a chaplain, I met a patient diagnosed with brain cancer. He was a Christian, but he doubted if God was the Living God and if Jesus had risen after hearing his doctor’s notification regarding brain cancer. Nobody knew he was doubting his faith because he seemed to be a strong believer. He was a committee member, a Sunday school teacher, and a choir member, which means he looked to the community like he followed God’s ministry in his whole life. However, he confessed to me he doubted if Jesus was real. Otherwise, why did this bad thing happen to him? I shared with him my experience of how I met God in a hospital when I was hopeless with a broken spine. That night, he met the risen Jesus Christ in his dream. He cried to me, “I met Jesus Christ in my dream. He came to me. He showed me his wounded hands. I have no doubt any longer. I believe him. It’s okay even if he doesn’t heal me because he is with me now.”

Sometimes we misunderstand a Christian life. Some may think that if we believe in God, our life goes well without accidents or illnesses. However, we can’t find those words in the scriptures. Instead, we can see, “I will be with you by the end of the world” (Matthew 28:20). “These signs will accompany those who believe: in my name, they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will place their hands on sick people; and they will get well” (Mark 16:17-18).

We had time to meditate, touching the thorn crown, cross, and nails at the Good Friday service. You might have thought about Jesus’ wounded hands and side at that time. Jesus’ wounded hands and his side are the symbols of our healing. The prophet Isaiah says, “He was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds, we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5).

Are you with the risen Christ now? If you are with him, you may have no fear, anxiety, or depression. Instead, you may have confidence, hope, and a desire to go forth because you are the person who met the risen Christ and received the Holy Spirit, and now you are a new living being. Thanks be to God. Amen!