(April 09, 2023) Dr Robert McQuillan challenges…

War between Russia and Ukraine is still sad news! Great news today though that Ukrainian children in Russian occupied territory have been returned to their parents! So many declarations of joy this Resurrection Sunday among happy parents and kids!

I was reminded of other Ukrainian declarations decades ago in the first church we planted. A Ukrainian member brought communion one Resurrection Sunday and shared how years ago the communists would take great delight in trying to re-educate village Ukrainian peasants.

Hearing of an outbreak of Christianity in one particular village, the authorities moved in with two university educated scholars, calling a mandatory meeting to which all the villagers had to attend. The humble villagers were afraid of what might happen.

Those clever scholars started by telling those simple villagers of the Soviet regime’s latest conquests and then quoting so-called ‘hard evidence’ that put an end to that religious myth of a ‘raised dead God.’

1. The greatest declaration
After a couple of hours building their case, they threw the meeting open for villagers to come forward and debate with them. But people were afraid for they knew full well the consequences to anyone daring to oppose the communists. People would disappear in the middle of the night, ending up in Siberia!

What seemed like an eternity passed – then an old man came up from the back of the building – villagers were aghast. This old fool was totally uneducated and they could sense trouble ahead for everyone. On reaching the front, he stood in front of the visitors, acknowledged them, then turning to the people, said simply, Christos Voskres  – ‘Christ is risen!’ – the traditional Ukrainian Resurrection Sunday victory declaration. The villagers immediately stood up and responded loudly and joyfully, Voyisteno Voskres – ‘Victoriously risen!’

Those simple villagers then turned and walked out of the building. To them there was no greater answer to communism and ‘those scholars’ than to finish that meeting declaring Christ is risenvictoriously risen! No matter what happened; they would rather put their trust in Christ’s resurrection.This was their response to those university educated communists. Amazingly no action was taken by the authorities against that village.

By the way, our communion presenter told us that if we had been a Ukrainian church, I  – the pastor – would be holding a ten inch long golden cross and greeting everyone with a joyous exclamation: ‘Christos voskres!three times, once to our left, then the middle, and then the right… each time expecting a positive joyous response of ‘Voyisteno voskres!’ 

And, he added, that three here indicates the Godhead, as all were involved in Calvary’s victory, a ‘three days dead’ tradition. A victorious resurrection indeed!

2. The greatest victory
Some years ago I was asked to minister at a Salvation Army citadel on Resurrection Sunday. Guess what I was asked to teach on? The reality of the resurrection of Jesus! The major who had invited Maureen and I along, added that his congregation needed to hear someone other than himself talk about this.

‘Someone else? Hmm?’ I thought. The reality of Christ’s resurrection is the same (or ought to be) whoever any honest, Bible believing preacher was!

Led by the Holy Spirit, I began my sermon by saying that I’d recently read that a ‘leading minister from a long-established denomination’ had foolishly stated that it was questionable if Jesus had actually risen from the dead. Then I challenged the congregation, ‘What do you believe?’

Not waiting for a response, I read 1 Corinthians 15:12, ‘… if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith’ adding this challenge: ‘If you call yourself a Christian, then you have to believe that Jesus did rise from the dead.’ The apostle Paul really did, for he went on to say in verse 20: Christ has indeed been raised from the dead.’

As that famous hymn goes… Hallelujah, He’s alive, Jesus is alive! We can rejoice today April 9, 2023, and celebrate His victory over Satan’s deceits and death. His victory is our victory! Because he lives, we shall live forevermore! 

3. The greatest celebration
Easter is the greatest celebration in the church calendar, even more so than Christmas. Why? Because our Saviour died for us and rose victorious from the dead.

An important truth: Easter is not a mere public holiday, bunnies and choc eggs for the kids. Yes, let’s enjoy and have fun with all that, of course (I love dark choc and can enjoy that as much as any kid!) but…

  • Let’s rejoice that three powerful victorious things happened the first ‘Godhead’ Easter…
    a) Jesus’ blood cleansed our sins away.
    b) The Holy Spirit broke the bondage of death for Jesus and for all of us eternally!
    c) We can now have a personal relationship with God.
  • In Old Testament days, the Israelites only had the blood of animals sacrificed yearly to pay the penalty for their sins, no Holy Spirit to help.
  • Hebrews 9:13-15 declares: ‘Jesus … bypassed the sacrifices consisting of goat and calf blood, instead using His own blood as the price to set us free once and for all. If that animal blood and the other rituals of purification were effective in cleaning up certain matters of our religion and behaviour, think how much more the blood of Christ cleans up our whole lives, inside and out. Through the Holy Spirit, Christ offered Himself as an unblemished sacrifice, freeing us from all those dead-end efforts to make ourselves respectable, so that we can live all out for God.’

4. The greatest truth
I recall an old joke here… Why were certain religious leaders called Sadducees? Because they didn’t believe in any resurrection, and were sad-you-see!

And why should we believe in Jesus’ resurrection, I asked that congregation. I didn’t go into various belittling arguments, or quoting proofs from Josephus, that great historian. I simply gave them something frightening to think about!… If Jesus didn’t rise from the dead then –

  • Christianity is nothing but an interesting museum piece.
  • Christianity has no objective, validity or reason.
  • Millions of martyrs who died for the faith were fools.
  • Millions of Christians today live in a fool’s paradise.
  • We’re all dead in our sins… no hope of heaven or a good life now.

Then I testified that I had faith in the power of the resurrection, confidence in my Lord! That I enjoyed life, living it to the full. And added a challenge –How about you?’

5. The greatest power
Jesus’ shed blood at Calvary has gained victory for humankind over Satan, sin and the penalty of sin. Eternal life is ours when we genuinely repent of our sins and accept Christ as Saviour! So is the ability to live life to the full here and now.

L E Jones’ old hymn Power in the Blood is still a winner! Remember that great line…‘There is power, wonder working power in the blood’? There was power, there is power and always will be! Even to have daily victory over all life’s curves.

Let me share a personal experience about the power of human blood… One time I developed a very sore neck and, as neck vessels carry blood to the brain, I required a colour doppler (a computer ultrasound check). As the ultrasound started I was suddenly jolted from my relaxed state by the thundering in my small cubicle.

Amazingly it was the computer loudly sounding out ‘live’ the noise of my blood in action – a totally incredible sound! Pulsating, really pounding, eerie, like a mighty rushing wind or huge ocean waves crashing against rocks! Completely intrigued with the roar I could but think of the power of Jesus’ blood. If this was how the force of my human blood roared in action, I thought, how much more powerfully the blood of Christ?

The doppler check became a graphic reminder of how much more meaningful and stronger beyond human blood is the sin-cleansing, life-bringing blood of our Saviour. If human blood gives life to the human brain from which flows creative ideas and decisions to achieve much in life, how much more powerful is the blood of the creative Christ flowing to help us in everything? Not just in eternal matters but here and now.

This means that when a person accepts Jesus as Saviour and asks forgiveness of sins, every sin is cleansed away. They exist no more and we can never be punished for any of them. We are no longer under any condemnation (Romans 8:1). We’re free!

So, dear reader, if you’ve accepted Jesus as Saviour, don’t bring up the past and condemn yourself. Nor let others do so! Don’t let Satan trick you here either. Live in resurrection freedom and power.

6. The greatest force
Of course sin is still around to tempt us… but because the power of sin is broken we can overcome its various temptations! That’s where the Holy Spirit who raised Jesus can help us rise above temptations. (And if we do fail, we can ask for a fresh cleansing which we’ll instantly receive from the God who forgives and forgets!).

Let’s really link the force of the resurrection with living life to the full. Let’s face it… life today is full of worries, even for Christians. World disasters, crisis of various kinds, increasing crime, financial troubles, computer hacking, sicknesses even among good Christians. Often it’s a case of ‘What’s next?’

But wait a minute…don’t you think that Jesus had problems too? Every day?Oh, yes! Threats, lies, accusations, weak disciples, scheming religious leaders, tiredness…

Our immediate tomorrows and eternal tomorrow is secured with the power of Jesus’ blood. Jesus’ own immediate tomorrows and His eternal tomorrow after Calvary was secured by God’s Holy Spirit! (Romans 8:11).

Indeed the Holy Spirit played an incredibly big role in Jesus’ daily life and ministry.‘… Jesus arrived from Nazareth, anointed by God with the Holy Spirit, ready for action. He went through the country helping people and healing everyone who was beaten down by the devil. He was able to do all this because God was with Him’ (Acts 10:38Mge).

Likewise our immediate tomorrows, including doing whatever God wants us to do for Him, are secure by His Spirit as we submit to His leading because Jesus promised us that same Holy Spirit – ‘I will talk to the Father, and He’ll provide you another Friend so that you will always have someone with you. This Friend is the Spirit of Truth’ (John 14:16-17Mge).

Resurrection means ‘to restore to life’, to ‘raise from the dead.’ For someone to be raised from the dead to life means that an incredible force is at work. The truth is that every day we need to know that the same power that raised Christ from the dead is there for us too. That the Holy Spirit is our friend and will help us in everything.

How do you pray? I pray this way, just as the Bible teaches: ‘Dear Father, (…whatever). In Jesus’ name, Amen.’ And I expect my best friend, the Holy Spirit, the greatest creative force in the universe, to move and miraculously answer my earnest, trusting prayer!

7. The greatest challenge
Jesus overcame so much, especially death, and all for us!

I was delighted that the Salvo minister was so pleased (not because of me, but that his congregation had got the point of what was shared – that the resurrection message was for real). We ended with a resounding ‘Amen!’ and a rousing Easter hymn. Several attenders come up for prayer and counsel… and some accepted Jesus!

Now I give my opening challenge to those dear folk to you… ‘What do you believe?’

I encourage us all to live life, each day, to the full… in the power of all that Easter resurrection means, whatever your circumstances.

You can… because Christos voskres! Victoriously arisen!


Dr Robert McQuillan’s links: and Facebook

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