Letter from Joseph Tkach — March 2013

Posted by colin on March 2, 2013 under Pastor General's Monthly Letter | Comments are off for this article

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,I saw on the news recently that a team of archeologists in England discovered the bones of King Richard III of England underneath a parking lot. They were actually unearthed some months ago, but the archeologists waited until the remains could be identified “beyond reasonable doubt” as those of the king, who was killed in 1485 in the battle of Bosworth, by soldiers loyal to the future Henry VII.This battle was a defining moment in the history of England and also the United States, even though Richard died seven years before Columbus set sail. The battle was fought between two rival claimants for the throne of England, the Plantagenets and the Tudors. The Tudors won, and ruled for just over 100 tumultuous years, marked by religious revolution and turmoil. It is interesting to speculate how different history might have been if Richard’s army had won the battle. There would have been no Tudor dynasty, no divorce for Henry VIII and no Anglican church as we know it. Perhaps the Pilgrim Fathers would not have sought religious freedom in the New World? Richard III was not a very successful king, but his death may have changed the world.

Nearly 1500 years before King Richard was killed, another king was put to death. He was called Jesus, the King of the Jews. And like King Richard, his enemies killed him. However, although people knew exactly where Jesus’ body had been buried, his bones have never been found.

And they won’t be.

Jesus’ mortal remains had been hastily buried, placed in a tomb, and sealed with a heavy stone. Soldiers were ordered to stand guard to prevent Jesus’ disciples from taking his body. Matthew, one of Jesus’ supporters, recorded how some women went to the tomb, hoping to embalm Jesus’ body properly. They were astonished to find the tomb unguarded, the stone rolled away and the tomb empty. Then one of the women met Jesus walking in the garden outside the tomb.

Christians, beginning with those very first eye-witness disciples, announced that Jesus was raised from the dead by God the Father through the Holy Spirit. This central teaching became the key point for which early Christians risked their lives. It represented for them–as it does for us today–the hope of the future. The certainty of Jesus’ resurrection caused ordinary men and women to face martyrdom in order to spread the news of this transforming event. Paul, who had at one time persecuted Christians without mercy, became convinced of the Resurrection through a personal post-resurrection encounter with Jesus and proclaimed it boldly before kings and governors of the Roman Empire.

Paul presented the resurrection of Jesus as an either/or proposition. “If there is no resurrection of the dead” he wrote to the Corinthian church, “then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either.And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied” (1 Corinthians 15:13-19).

Paul didn’t beat around the bush. Either the resurrection of Jesus is the most concrete reality or we have no hope. The gospel message is plain and unambiguous. The resurrected Jesus has triumphed over sin and death.

The fact that Jesus rose from the dead has changed the destiny of everyone who has ever lived. “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1 Peter 1:3).

Like King Richard, Jesus is still a controversial figure. But the question is not about where to bury him. Rather it is about how to respond to the fact that he is alive and holds the keys to the grave–yours, mine and everyone else’s (Revelation 1:18).

That is what I believe, and I know you do, too. Thank you for your faithful support, as we work together to make this wonderful truth known to as many as possible, so that they too may live life with the living hope of resurrection.

With love in Christ’s service,

Joseph Tkach President – Grace Communion International

March 1, 2013

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