But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Cor. 15:57).
A life situation approach leads up to a striking motif: “Put that light back!” Here the light has to do with the Christian conviction that the crucified Lord was not held in the grave, that Christ has conquered sin and death and is alive forevermore. You come to worship either because you know that this is true, or because you wish it were. Let me tell you why I believe that this is “the masterlight of all our seeing,” and that this is a real victory we all can share.
I. An Integral Part of the Gospel. Easter does not mean merely that once upon a time a man rose from the dead. It means that this Man, Jesus Christ the Son of God, could not be held within the boundaries of the grave. To him the Resurrection comes as the climax of a life that is the miracle of all miracles—God manifest on earth.
The victory is not only of one piece with the whole Gospel; the Resurrection is the foundation of the entire New Testament. The infant Church is founded that Christ is really risen from the dead, and is now a living power in the world. (The text!)
II. The Outcome of a Real Struggle. The Easter message comes to us in the midst of our human agony, and speaks of a victory won, won here on this blood-stained earth, where we wrestle with our sins, know the fact of evil, endure suffering, and die. That is where the Light shines, not from an ivory tower, but from a Cross. (Text.)
A religion that leaps from Christmas to Easter is a mere skeleton of faith, a shadowy ghost that cannot bring conviction to our souls. Only when we know the Christ of flesh and blood, only when we have been touched by that hard Cross shaped from the wood of our own forests—only then can we know how true it is that Christ is risen from the dead. Only if somehow, somewhere, we have been with him in the prison-house of pain and sin, can we share the victory that liberates our souls.
III. The Hidden Victory of God. Where is the victory? That is what men ask. Show me the evidence that the power of sin is broken, and the menace of death removed. This is a hidden victory. To a group of very ordinary people it was made known in the quietest possible way. A tremendous demonstration of heavenly power, so universal and compelling that men would have had to believe, would have shattered human nature, and we should have ceased to be real, responsive, responsible men and women. To this day the evidence of the Resurrection is found in lives where Christ is King, lives that know the inner working of his Spirit, men and women who know what it is to say: “O death, where is thy sting?” (Here quote First Corinthians 15:55–57; also, after a moving paragraph of prose, a portion of John Masefield’s poem, The Everlasting Mercy.)
Here is the victory that the Christian Church offers you this morning: the knowledge that Christ is the Conqueror of sin and death, with the promise of his transforming power. In the midst of our ordinary tasks, where our anxious world crowds in on us from day to day, we listen with the inner ear to the trumpets of His victory. Let them sound again. Put that light back! For there at Calvary and in the Easter Garden the victory is won. And here in the sanctuary it is given to you. We have troubles enough to contend with and are often threatened with defeat in our souls. “But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”—From I Am Persuaded, Scribner’s, 1962, pp. 149–57.
Have something to add about this? See something we missed? Share your feedback here.