The Resurrection of Jesus Christ, which means our resurrection as well, has implications for this life, as well as the life to come. Our response to the Resurrection of Jesus Christ should be one of unmitigated, ecstatic joy! It should provoke from us the greatest celebration we are capable of hosting in this life.
And yet it’s also quite sobering because the terrible price for Easter is Good Friday and before Jesus was resurrected for us, He suffered for our sins. Connected to the Resurrection of Jesus Christ (and therefore our own) is the idea of holiness – the conquering of sin in our lives and its power over us. But where is this victory if we celebrate Easter with bread and wine and song but allow it to become a bacchanalia? Where is the victory of Easter, if Easter Monday we return to business as usual and pick up our sins where we left them? And where is the victory of Christ in our lives if, now that Lent is over, we go back to our former lives as if nothing life-changing has just happened?
Paul’s vision of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ is ultimately a vision of the King of kings seated on the throne in blinding glory and purity. It is Paul’s vision of God Almighty, the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings and Lord of lords, that compels him to warn Timothy so frequently and so fervently throughout his letters to Timothy. And it is our vision of this same Almighty God that is to direct our hearts and hands.
In fact, your vision of God and your sense of His sacramental presence in your life will determine how you choose to serve Him. Whatever vision of God Paul has been having, I’ll have the same!
Paul’s vision of God (remembering that St. Paul was privileged to have extraordinary revelations of God) is, at heart, a vision of God all-glorious sitting on the throne ruling the heavens and the earth. Paul’s vision begins with an understanding that God is the blessed and only Potentate. A potentate is just what it sounds like: someone who is potent or powerful. But God is Almighty God, who is the only true Potentate, the only one with absolute power. We’d better understand the power of God, or else we will understand nothing else.
This God is the one who created everything out of nothing. He is the one who commands a billion billion suns to explode thermonuclearly, but with precise control. He is the One who holds all things together, and He is the inventor and perpetuator of all of the forces of physics and chemistry that hold matter together. He is the source of men’s souls and the sculptor of their bodies.
He alone is the King of kings and Lord of lords, before whom the greatest of human rulers is less than a baby and smaller than a flea. He causes the nations to rise and fall, and one of His days is an eon for humanity. It is He alone who is the blessed Potentate because there is no other source of blessing, and there is no other person we should bless in the same way. He alone is God. He alone has immortality, and He existed before there was even a creation by which to measure time. He is without beginning or end, and nothing can diminish His power or His glory.
He is a shining, burning sun that will burn out your retinas, His light is much greater than a universe of lasers, and no man can dwell in the fullness of His light. He is the light that made Moses’ face shine so brightly that Moses had to veil His face, when Moses had turned His back and seen only a penumbra of God’s goodness and glory.
He is so glorious, so holy, so Him, that no man has truly seen Him or can see Him in His fullness. He is the glory so great that it drove the holy priests out of the tabernacle in Exodus, and He is the burning face of Christ in Revelation (for more on this, wait until this Friday!)
This is the Jesus Christ who resurrected from the dead and ascended in glory to the right hand of the Father where He is seated and reigns. He is the King of Glory, and only those who have clean hands and a pure heart will see Him because He is a holy, cleansing fire.
To this God be honor and everlasting power; unto this King eternal, immortal, invisible, God only wise, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen!
In light of the fact that this God, this Lord Jesus Christ, will appear before all men, St. Paul reminds Timothy and us of how he should live and teach.
Because God is who He is, and because the resurrected Lord Jesus Christ will appear before you one day, “fight the good fight” and “lay hold on eternal life, to which you were called” (verse 12.) This God has called each of you to be a disciple of Jesus Christ who lives in a holy fear. In sight of this holy and fiery God, lay hold of the salvation that has been purchased for you by leading a holy life.
Because God is who He is, and because the Lord Jesus Christ will appear before you one day, keep the commandments spotless and without blame (verse 14.) Be holy as God is holy. Keep the faith entire. Don’t pick and choose which parts of God (from whom His commandments flow) you will obey. Teach the truth, and live the truth, and in this way you will be ready to face your resurrected Lord when He summons you to Him.
Because God is who He is, and because the Lord Jesus Christ will appear before you one day, do not trust in uncertain riches. Trust instead in the God who gave you those riches (verse 17.) Go ahead and enjoy them. And if you are poor, enjoy whatever it is that God has given you, not coveting what He has not given you. But if you are rich, be rich in good works. Which good works? All of them, but especially the good work of giving and sharing. Why do you think God has chosen you as the steward of His riches and treasure? So that, in His name and in holy fear of Him, you may share with the poor, so that you might give Him the honor and glory and blessing that is due to Him. If you are rich, it is by sharing with the poor that you especially will lay hold of eternal life (verse 19.) Or do you think that the God who gave up His life for you and made you an heir to all His riches demands nothing from you?
Because God is who He is, and because the Lord Jesus Christ will appear before you one day, guard whatever it is that God has entrusted to you. Guard His holy Word. Guard the apostolic teaching by hearing, reading, studying, memorizing, meditating upon, and praying with the Holy Scriptures.
Guard God’s Word with your life: guard it by your life. Guard, especially, the gift of your life that God has given to you to use in this life. You are not your own: you were bought with the price of the Body and Blood of your Lord Jesus Christ. If you believe in the Resurrection and have just celebrated it, then believe also in the Cross, the price paid for your sins so that you too can be raised to everlasting life with God.
Above all, give all honor and glory, all praise and thanksgiving, to the One who has entrusted you with your life and all that it contains. Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, by living according to the words of Life, given by the Word of Life.
Prayer: O God, who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality and dwells in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see, to You be honor and everlasting power. Amen.
Point for Meditation:
- Meditate on how you can perpetuate Easter in your life so that it is a season and a life, and not just a single day.
- Meditate on ways in which you can use Easter this year to help you pursue the holiness for which Christ died and rose.
Resolution: I resolve to remember the joy and energy that God has brought me with Easter and to use it to pursue God and His holiness today.
© 2015 Fr. Charles Erlandson