Higher Ground


higher ground

For just the basics in mountain climbing gear you need the right mountaineering boots that have spikes, front points, and crampon straps.  Other gear includes: the right pants with leggings, ice ax, ice screw, hammer ax, clock, piton-carrier, mountaineering shovel, carabiners, climbing harness, rope, parka, hood, knapsack, and a helmet, with a helmet lamp.  This list makes me tired.  People who climb mountains are a rare breed, the few of the few.  People who climb the world’s highest mountains, represent an even smaller pool of the few who climb mountains in general.  Those who reach the summit of the world’s tallest mountains are the rarest of this rare breed.

I can say with some assurance, there is a hill where One man stood alone, and of His own free will, He rose to higher heights than any other climber has ever been on this earth.  This Man stood, while nailed to a Roman cross of crucifixion.  This Man died in the process, and was then buried in a nearby borrowed tomb.  This Man ascended from His deathbed three days later, and climbed out of that tomb alive again!!!  When He left this planet, THIS MAN rose to His rightful place in the heavens.

The man in the mountain climbing picture above has climbed to the peak, and was rewarded with a view that only the few will ever witness.  Perhaps he nearly sacrificed his own life to attain this height.  I don’t know what hardship he faced, how long it took, or if there were others with him.  I don’t know his name, his relationship with the people in his life.  I don’t know if he is rich or poor, educated highly or simply, political or not.  The only thing I know of this man, is that he climbed that mountain.  It is what I see.

Some people only see Jesus on the cross.  This is a mistake.  It’s easier perhaps for them to accept a historical narrative of a real man, Jewish in origin from the tiny village of Nazareth, who stirred up trouble in Jerusalem around 33 A.D. and was put to death for His actions. Then they can say when asked, “sure, Jesus was a real person.”  But this doesn’t tell the whole story does it?  It’s much harder to accept other parts of this narrative as fact.  The parts of the story which come after the death of Jesus are critical in the total package.  For without the resurrection and the ascension, the crucial element of Jesus having power over death and hell, is lost.  He died to pay our sin debt.  But if it gets paid, then Jesus never is resurrected, the debt is not cancelled as soon as it is paid.  And we still bear this burden.  Don’t take my word for it.  Listen to the Apostle Paul…

1 Corinthians 15:12-19
Now if Christ is preached, that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead?  But if there is no resurrection of the dead, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain.  Moreover we are even found to be false witnesses of God, because we testified against God that He raised Christ, whom He did not raise, if in fact the dead are not raised.  For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins.  Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished.  If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied.

The empty tomb stands as the ultimate symbol of the ability of Jesus to keep His promises.  In John 10:17-18 Jesus says, “For this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down My life so that I may take it again.  No one has taken it away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This commandment I received from My Father.”

The empty tomb, if we take the time to focus our attention there more than one day a year, gives us the confident assurance that Christ will make good on all His promises!  And that includes…

John 14:1-3
Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me.  In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you.  If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also.

Revelation 22:12-13
Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to render to every man according to what he has done.  I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.

These promises give me the power to climb out of bed everyday.  These promises allow me to not just see Jesus on the cross, but to see Him climbing out of the tomb, ascending back to the Father, and ONE DAY… coming to take me to live with Him forever.  I don’t need a lot of mountain climbing gear to scale the heights of this planet.  I have faith that takes me to the far reaches of the universe!  I have Jesus.

Happy Easter!  He is Risen!

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