“I serve a risen Savior, 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. 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, salvation to impart! You ask me how I know He lives; He lives within my heart.”
These are the words and refrain from the first stanza of one of our popular hymns. It was written by Alfred H. Ackley in 1933, and it proclaims what sets our faith in Jesus apart from all other religious systems. Whatever one may feel about the poetic license employed by Mr. Ackley, the fact that Christians serve a living Lord is entirely unprecedented among world religions.
Millions of Muslims make the annual pilgrimage to the birthplace of Mohammed, where his remains are enshrined. There is no question that he is dead, and has been for nearly 1500 years. His tomb is occupied, and everyone expects it to be so.
Millions of Mormons owe their faith to their “prophet” Joseph Smith. He, also, is dead, and has been for over 150 years. His grave is occupied with his earthly remains, as everyone would expect it to be. So it is, as well, with all other religious leaders, whether western or eastern.
It is decidedly different for Christians, however. the Lord predicted not only His death, but also the fact that after three days, He would rise again (Mt. 16:21). That His disciples did not initially believe Him is immaterial to the issue. When, after He had been crucified and buried, His tomb was found empty on the third day, their disbelief began to weaken. When the Lord appeared to them on several occasions thereafter, their disbelief was gone forever.
It is here that the fact that the Lord was alive had its greatest impact. For when the apostles stood up to preach on the first Pentecost after His resurrection, they proclaimed that He was alive. In Acts 2:32 Peter said, “This Jesus God raised up again, to which we are all witnesses.” They had seen Him, touched Him, spoken with Him, and even eaten with Him for some forty days after His resurrection. These men knew that Jesus was alive.
Beginning on that day, as recorded in the book of Acts, the message of the apostles, and all others who preached the gospel thereafter, was that Jesus was indeed alive. As He had promised, He had risen from the dead, and had ascended back into heaven where He was exalted by God the Father to His right hand. Paul said it best in Rom. 6:8, 9, where he said, “Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, is never to die again; death no longer is master over Him.”
Not only did Jesus rise from the dead after His crucifixion, but He continues to live forever more. Because He lives, we who are Christians have hope for eternity, if we remain faithful to Him. We do not serve a dead master. There are no remains in His tomb. There is no marker showing where His body lies, because it is not there. We indeed serve a risen Master, and in the words of the song, we may rejoice because, “He lives, He lives, Christ Jesus lives today!”