Jesus has risen. He has defeated the power of death and risen from the dead. Jesus’ tomb was an empty tomb. Jesus was risen on the third day after being crucified on the cross. God had raised Jesus from the dead through the power of the Holy Spirit. The gospel of Jesus is the gospel of the cross and resurrection. The story of Jesus didn't end at the cross. The cross was the prelude to the resurrection. Just as he had promised, Jesus died on the cross and was raised from the dead. The resurrected Jesus has given the disciples and us amazing gifts. It’s not just one gift but a bundle of gifts.
Last Sunday evening, we had a birthday party for my second granddaughter Clara at my place. Her grandmother and her aunt and uncle prepared gifts for her. Inside the gift box, there was more than one gift. There was a bundle of gifts in it. In the gift box, there was a doll, stickers, games, and more. They weren’t expensive gifts, but they were gifts prepared with thoughtfulness just for my granddaughter. My granddaughter held the bundle of gifts with excitement and joy. We like gifts. We don’t just enjoy receiving gifts but we also like giving gifts as well. We like preparing and giving gifts for those who we love. We like seeing the ones we love being happy and joyful after receiving the gifts we had prepared for them. Before going to the cross, Jesus received a gift from a woman who broke the alabaster jar for him. And after being resurrected, Jesus gave precious gifts to the women and disciples.
The first gift is a gift of great joy. The news of resurrection was the news of great joy. It was an angel that the women who went to the tomb had encountered. The news that the angel gave was news of great joy. “He has risen, as he said” (Matt. 28:6). And the angel told the women to go quickly and tell the disciples of this joyful news. So they ran to tell the disciples with "fear and great joy" (Matt. 28:8). The women experienced both emotions of ‘fear and great joy’ at the same time. When the resurrected Jesus has appeared to the disciples, they were overjoyed (Jn. 20:20). The joy they have experienced was the joy of restoration. When Jesus died, they had lost Jesus. That Jesus whom they once believe was lost was now restored to them.
The second gift is the gift of peace. On the day of Jesus' crucifixion, the disciples all fled in fear. They were caught in fear. After the resurrection, Jesus came to the fearful disciples and gave them peace. He said, “Peace be with you” (Jn. 20:19). When Jesus appeared back to the disciples few days later, he spoke peace unto the disciples again (Jn. 20:26). Peace is an amazing gift. No matter how difficult and hard it may be for us, when peace enters into our hearts we are able to overcome the hardship. The kingdom of God is the kingdom of peace.
The third gift is the gift of calling. Jesus said to the disciples, “As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you” (Jn. 20:21). Calling means to be sent to achieve a special purpose and goal. Calling is running God’s errands. Calling is the reason for our being. Calling is the the reason for life and is what gives meaning and worth to life. However, on the day Jesus was crucified on the cross, they forgot and gave up their calling. They thought that everything has come to an end. Peter and some of the disciples went back to their old occupation and went fishing. However, everything was not finished at the cross. The cross wasn’t the end but a new beginning. God started a new chapter in history at the cross. No matter how difficult the road of life may be, we must not easily give up. It is not over until God says it is over. We can always start anew. ‘A new beginning’ is a noble gift God has given to us.
The fourth gift is the Holy Spirit. When the resurrected Jesus met the disciples, he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit” (Jn. 20:22). After the resurrection and ascension, Jesus gave us the Holy Spirit just as he had promised us as a gift. After being filled with the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost, Peter declared the gospel of repentance. Those who heard the message were cut to the heart and said, “What shall we do?” And Peter answered that if they repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus that they will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38). The Holy Spirit is the amazing gift of God. The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of wisdom and understanding. He is the Spirit of counsel and might. He is the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord (Isa. 11:2-3). The Holy Spirit is the Spirt of power (Acts 1:8). Everything that we need is contained in the Holy Spirit.
Let us rejoice together for the resurrected Lord. Let us rejoice together for the gifts that the resurrected Lord gave us. Let us give all the glory to the resurrected Lord. Let us spread the gospel of our resurrected Lord to the whole world.
Reverend Joshua Choon-Min Kang is the senior pastor of New Life Vision Church, located in Los Angeles. This is one of the weekly letters he writes to his congregation. For the original, visit www.nlvc.org.