To live like Christ lives!

“Easter reminds us: ‘Brother, sister, don’t worry, the Lord is here!’” This is the summary of Chief Apostle Schneider’s Easter message for 2022. The divine service took place in Bünde (Germany).

“I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you. A little while longer and the world will see Me no more, but you will see Me. Because I live, you will live also.” This is what it says in the gospel of John, chapter 14, verses 18–19. In the Easter story we read that the women had bought oil to anoint the Lord’s body. However, “an enormous stone had been rolled in front of the tomb. Their concern was: who was going to help them remove this huge stone. They had no idea, the stone was simply too heavy, too large for them.” When they then arrived at the tomb, they noticed that the stone had been rolled away. The tomb was empty. The Lord had risen.

It has already been accomplished!

“This is also important for all of us: we want to serve the Lord, we want to do something for Him, and are concerned how we are going to do it. There are so many obstacles, so many problems, and we cannot really serve the Lord as we would like. Something is missing here or is just no longer available, somewhere else there is a shortage of something, or there are other difficulties.” Chief Apostle Schneider remarked that this was understandable, but Easter reminds us: “Don’t worry, the Lord is here! And even if you cannot see it: He is completing His work! We worry, but in the background the Lord is doing something much greater.”

For the moment, he said, we still have to believe and hope, but “Jesus has already won. There is no longer a question mark behind it. It is not a hypothesis, not a possibility, but a divine fact: Jesus Christ has conquered evil and death.”

Neither a dream nor utopia

The Chief Apostle said that Jesus’ ministry may perhaps have been a wonderful dream for some. Others would have liked to hear Him preach. But then they were confronted with reality. He died. He had claimed to be the Son of God, but God had not taken Him down from the cross, had not helped Him. For the world, Jesus was dead.

And then this Jesus said: “Even if the world can see Me no more, I live and will continue to live.” He knew: “They are going to kill My body, I am going to experience earthly death. But that which actually constitutes My life, My true life, they cannot touch: My relationship to God, My fellowship with My Father, My intimate connection with God. They can do what they want, it won’t change anything.”

And He will come again

“Then He says here: ‘I will come to you.’ To you, not to everyone.” The world had forgotten Him. Therefore, as the Risen One He only appeared to those who already believed in Him before: to the women, to Peter, to the Emmaus disciples, to the Apostles. Paul says that Jesus appeared to five hundred brethren at once. “What did He do at each of these encounters? He comforted and brought peace: ‘Don’t worry, I am here with you. Peace be with you.’” He forgave Peter, nor did He blame the disciples for abandoning Him. And then He confirmed once again: “I have sent you,” and gave them a mandate. “These were the encounters of the Risen One with those who had believed in Him before. He lived, He appeared to them in order to comfort them, to give them peace, to strengthen them, to have fellowship with them, to forgive them, and to give them a mission. Later He declared to them, “I will not leave you orphans.”

What He says is true

The disciples now understood what it meant when He had said: “Because I live, you will live also.” They had encounters with the Lord and were able to maintain, strengthen, and develop their relationship with God and Jesus Christ. “They trusted Him completely and knew: what He said is the truth! He is with us, He will help us, He will guide and strengthen us, and He sends us out! They had total trust, confidence, courage, and hope.”

The Chief Apostle remarked that for many people today, Jesus Christ is dead. “Why doesn’t He intervene? Why does He allow this?” What about His teaching, the gospel? Sure, those are certainly beautiful thoughts, and they sound good. “However, overcoming evil with good, loving one another, loving the enemy, forgiving others—all of this is so unrealistic, a pure utopia, and just can’t be put into practice. A beautiful dream, a nice theory, but far from reality.”

This is where the expectations of Christians and the church of Christ are different, the Chief Apostle continued. “Jesus Christ is with us. God is with us. Jesus Christ tells us: ‘Don’t worry. I live! I will complete My work and no one can stop Me. I am still in control. Let them say what they want.”

The Chief Apostle urged the listeners that the church of today should not give up on this relationship with Jesus Christ, no matter what! “I make a point of repeating this deliberately: this is and remains up to you! If you want to you can remain faithful. It is only a question of whether you say yes or no to God. Christ lives, and we want to live like Him!”

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Peter Johanning
Chief Apostle, Easter, Divine service