Did you hear the big news? It’s a real game changer! After this nothing will be the same again. Monopoly is changing its rules. Yes, after 80 years of family frustration and sibling rivalry, Hasbro has decided to update the rules with a fan-favourite selection of house rules that will become official later this year. Why the change in the rules? Because, if you’ve ever played Monopoly in your life, then you have most likely been playing it all wrong anyway. Everyone plays their own version, which they assume is right, but none of them are the official rules that come in the game. So if after 80 years of people playing the game wrong you simply can’t beat them, then join them I guess.
This Easter morning we remember an even bigger game changer. One that breaks not just 80 year-old rules, but the very way of things since our very first father and mother watched the Garden of Eden fade into the distance. For today Death is undone. Today Life wins, not just for now … but forever! Christ is Risen! He is Risen Indeed! Alleluia!
You see, God saw that we were stuck playing this game of life all wrong. Everyone was muddling through their own version of this life, making sense of things as best we could but never quite having all the pieces make sense. Not only did we not follow the rules, but we couldn’t. They were beyond us, and so life was no fun, a losing prospect. Life lived on our own is always a losing game in the end. There was no way for us to beat sin death and the devil. So God joined us. And He did what we could not. Playing by all the righteous rules Jesus came and beat even death at its own game. As Good Friday showed us in horrifying detail He was punished for our transgressions, He died for our sin, He was buried in our graves. But it was not game over. For today the rules change! Today death is undone. Today Life wins once and for all time.
And because Easter changes all the rules of the game, that means our lives now … well they change too. For Good Friday is not just Jesus’ death on the cross, but your death as well. Dead to sin, dead to this world. Dead and buried with Jesus in the waters of Holy Baptism. And if Good Friday was yours then how much more is this Easter Day! For today is not just about Jesus’ resurrection and His empty tomb, but your resurrection, your empty grave and your new and everlasting life too! A Baptismal life that doesn’t look like what it once was …
1If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. In baptism we’ve been buried with Christ. His death counts as your death so that by faith, we’ve also then been raised from spiritual death just as Christ was raised from the dead. He has given us life by forgiving all our sins.
And this new life doesn’t need the stuff of the past, the trappings of our old life or world. It is sustained by all the things which we already have by faith in Christ. The “things above” that believers are to seek are precisely those promises that have come true on earth, through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. Those gifts of forgiveness, life and salvation that now are sealed and certain because Christ who accomplished them is sitting, alive and whole, at the right hand of God in divine power and splendour.
2Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. The things of this world, as good as they are, are at best only temporary and transient. Stuff breaks, money disappears, family and friends are taken from us, and even our own bodies will fail in the end. We can and should use them, enjoy them … but never trust in them or see them as an end unto themselves. The old rules of the game say that the one who dies with the most toys wins. But in reality they simply die. In the right use of all the earthly things entrusted to us, we really mind and seek heavenly things. Marriage, money, innocent pleasures, owning property – these are all gifts of God. But they dare not become gods or tools of satan. They dare not rule us or our lives.
This doesn’t mean we must strive to attain heaven by giving up on the earth. Easter shows us that we already have heaven by faith in Jesus! A heaven that enriches and informs our life here now on earth. This life isn’t ruled by death. It isn’t a losing game. It is a game we have already won before we’ve even started. Enjoy it! Live it! Be thankful for the opportunity to play! Get out and Live your life by the faith in the Son of God Who loved you and gave Himself for you.”
3For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. In Baptism, at the moment of conversion, we died to sin, to the demands of the law, to the vain pursuit of saving ourself. A child eager for chocolate cannot be stalled by the promise of cauliflower. A man hurrying home for the big game will not be swayed by a sale at the local grocery store. A mother caring for her sick child cannot be tempted to go out and live it up for a change. Nor do we live this life, or partake of all its blessings under the old rules. For they are gone, and a new game lies before us. A bigger, better, more glorious life than anything that would tempt us to stop and stay and happily forget in this moment what comes next.
4When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. And yet often the promise of that glorious, Christ-like life is hidden. There are days when the shouting of the world is too loud for us to hear the clear and loving words of our God. But this day rises above even death itself! This day, and Christ’s glorious resurrection from the dead shout out to even the most despairing and down-hearted that life now lived by faith, will one day (and soon) be lived by sight. Christ is risen! He is Risen Indeed! Alleluia! No longer with life be hidden by death. We shall actually see Christ, our Life. And on that day when we meet Jesus we shall be like Him and see our true self, glorified. Why? Because He died for us. Because He lives even now for us. Because the very game has changed, and in Christ we are already winners.
Christ is risen! He is Risen Indeed! Alleluia!