Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
– Matthew 28:16-20
I serve a risen Saviour,
He’s in the world today
I know that He is living,
whatever men may say
I see His hand of mercy,
I hear His voice of cheer
And just the time I need Him
He’s always near
Refrain: He lives (He lives), He lives (He lives),
Christ Jesus lives today
He walks with me and talks with me
Along life’s narrow way
He lives (He lives), He lives (He lives),
Salvation to impart
You ask me how I know He lives?
He lives within my heart
In all the world around me
I see His loving care
And though my heart grows weary
I never will despair
I know that He is leading, through all the stormy blast
The day of His appearing will come at last
Rejoice, rejoice, O Christian
Lift up your voice and sing
Eternal hallelujahs to Jesus Christ, the King
The Hope of all who seek Him, the Help of all who find
None other is so loving, so good and kind
– Alfred H. Ackley, He Lives
I listened to Alan Jackson’s Gospel songs one Saturday afternoon. One of the hymns was “He Lives” by Alfred H. Ackley. I love hymns with echo refrains. I miss the church of my youth when we would go to Wednesday prayer meetings. The first half of the meeting was old-time-religion singing. And the old retired men must have rested their voices for days so they could rock the dust out of the rafters during the echo refrains. “He lives.” (HE LIVES!) “He lives.” (HE LIVES!) It was loud, but they sang it beautifully.
The next morning at church after listening to the video, I looked up the hymn in our church hymnal. As I’d sung along with the video the day before, something was bothering me. It struck me that this Easter hymn is not an Easter hymn. Through my entire life, the church always sang the hymn near Easter. It is printed in the hymnal under Easter hymns, but look at the words. The words are more like “Just a Closer Walk with Thee” than they are to “He Arose!” There is no mention of the empty tomb or the stone rolled away. There is no mention of rising from the dead.
What does the hymn say? He lives. He lives within my heart. He walks with me. He talks with me.
Just as we relegate this beautiful hymn to only one season, we also cut the book of Matthew short by one sentence. Ask anyone that knows about the Great Commission and they’ll tell you that the Great Commission ends the book of Matthew, but no. The Great Commission is followed with a single sentence, a promise. Jesus will be with us to the end of time. Every day, not just the Easter season.
Does having “He Lives” relegated to Easter, send a dangerous statement? Is Jesus dead the rest of the year? Did Jesus not mean it when He promised to be with us forever?
Well, to answer the middle question, Jesus gets born every Christmas. So, He isn’t dead in people’s minds then. But during that period, another dangerous thing happens. We view Jesus as a newborn and not the King of Kings.
Quite some time ago, my wife and I rented the video – “Talladega Nights, the Ballad of Ricky Bobby.” Okay, we wasted our money and our time. Some of the attempts at humor were so low brow that instead of smiling, we cringed. But I gained one morsel from the movie. In the memorable scene, they are sitting around the dinner table and Ricky Bobby prays. He says something like, “Oh, Dear, Baby Jesus…” His wife asks him why he always prays to the ‘Baby Jesus.’ And Ricky Bobby replies that out of all the Jesuses, that’s the one he likes.
I didn’t recall the joke because it is ‘funny,’ but because it is true with too many people.
I turned around to see the voice that was speaking to me. And when I turned I saw seven golden lampstands, and among the lampstands was someone like a son of man, dressed in a robe reaching down to his feet and with a golden sash around his chest. The hair on his head was white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire. His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters. In his right hand he held seven stars, and coming out of his mouth was a sharp, double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance.
When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. Then he placed his right hand on me and said: “Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. I am the Living One; I was dead, and now look, I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades.
– Revelation 1:12-18
John fell at the vision’s feet as if dead. “Well, Yeah!”
Most people want the Baby Jesus. Why are so many of the CEOs (Christmas, Easter Only) only COs? The church overflows more on Christmas than on Easter.
The Jesus of John’s Revelation is scary. We might drop dead too. But really, that Jesus might cause us to have to change our lives…
Jesus gave us a Great Commission. Then he said to the disciples to teach the next generation to follow all those commandments Jesus had taught. That includes the Great Commission. That includes having the next generation teach the Great Commission to the next, and so on. Then He says that He will be with us to the end of time.
He promises to be with us. But borrowing from Ricky Bobby, which Jesus do we want? Do we want the Baby Jesus? Something that is comfortable and pleasing to think about? Or do we want the Jesus with a flaming double-edged sword coming out of His mouth?
I might fall on my face, scared to death, but I want the risen Savior. I know just some of my weakness. I want someone who is stronger than I and knows me better than I know myself.
There is a vulgar expression often used in the military. Here is a cleaned version. “I have come to kick back sides and take names.”
Compare the description of Jesus in Revelation 1 with the description in Revelation 19:11-16. The latter has a few more details, but when Jesus returns, He is coming to kick back sides and take names. It will be the time for Judgment Day.
But until that time, Jesus, the strong risen Savior, is with us every day of our lives (not just Easter), even until the end of time. Every day, we should sing a reminder of that fact. He lives (He lives), He lives (He lives), Christ Jesus lives today. He walks with me and talks with me along life’s narrow way. He lives (He lives), He lives (He lives), Salvation to impart. You ask me how I know He lives? He lives within my heart.