by Ev. Kenny Joseph
Did you know Japan’s first Easter was celebrated with an Easter hymn, “He is Risen,” 1,300 years before the Jesuits and Xavier were born? When I preached at an Easter service in Kerala, S. India, the driver was one hour late. He said, “Don’t worry, they’ll sing 155 verses by heart before you begin!” And they did sing a lot of verses from Genesis to Revelation, so let’s let the old hymns tell the story of Easter, the “Hinge of History,” which opens the door to eternal life.
As Mr. A.H. Ackley talked to an atheist about Jesus, he was told, “Your Christ is dead. If your Christ is alive, give me His address and telephone number. He’s dead…give it up…get a life.” Ackley limped home feeling defeated, depressed. He got beat up by an atheist! In tears he knelt down and prayed. There he heard the sound of music in his head. He took out an envelope and wrote down what has become a famous Easter song: “He lives….I serve a risen Saviour….”
I serve a risen Saviour, 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.
In all the world around me I see His loving care, And tho my heart grows weary I never will despair; I know that He is leading thro, all the stormy blast. The day of His appearing will come at last.
Rejoice, rejoice, O Christian, lift up your voice and sing. Eternal hallelujas to Jesus Christ the King! The hope of all who seek Him, the help of all who find. None other is so loving, so good and kind.
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.
If Christ the Lord is dead, the biggest fools on earth are Christians who believe they’re born again by trusting in Jesus who died for them on the cross and rose again alive. He spent 40 days proving He was alive. This is the cornerstone of truth. But if Christ did in fact defy death and rise again, then the biggest fool is the man who does not believe.
Both Jessie B. Pounds and James H. Fillmore were sure about their faith in a living Saviour when they wrote, “I know That My Redeemer Liveth.”
I know that my Redeemer liveth, And on the earth again shall stand; I know eternal life He giveth, That grace and power are in His hand.
I know His promise never faileth, The word He speaks, it cannot die; Tho, cruel death my flesh assaileth, Yet I shall see…Him by and by.
I know my mansion He prepareth, That where He is there I may be; O wondrous tho, for me He careth, And He at last…will come for me.
I know, I know that Jesus liveth, And on the earth again shall stand; I know, I know that life He giveth, That grace and power are in His hand.
To prove that point, B.B. McKinney took an old Hawaiian folk song in 1921 and turned it into this victorious affirmation: “He lives on High.” He includes Christ’s coming, crucifixion, resurrection and His indwelling of all who believe and receive Him.
Christ the Saviour came from heaven’s glory, To redeem the lost from sin and shame; On His brow He wore the thorn-crown gory. And upon Calvary He took my blame.
He arose from death and all its sorrow, To dwell in that land of joy and love; He is coming back some glad tomorrow, And He’ll take all His children home above.
Weary soul, to Jesus come confessing, Redemption from sin He offers thee; Look to Jesus and receive a blessing, There is life, there is joy and victory.
He lives on high, He lives on high, Triumphant over sin and all its stain, He lives on high, He lives on high, Some day He’s coming again.
EASTER….SHMEASTER…who cares? What difference does it make? All the difference between heaven and hell, that’s all. Because He died, was buried and three days later rose again, that guarantees that we believers will also rise. Death is not the end. It’s the beginning of eternal life in heaven or eternal misery in hell. This is the hope of the earth, so we can sing with certainty, “Hallelujah, We Shall Rise.”
In the resurrection morning, When the trump of God shall sound, We shall rise, we shall rise! Then the saints will come rejoicing. And no tears will e’er be found, We shall rise, we shall rise.
In the resurrection morning, What a meeting it will be, We shall rise, we shall rise! When our fathers and our mothers, And our loved ones we shall see, We shall rise, we shall rise.
In the resurrection morning, Blessed tho it is to me, We shall rise, we shall rise! I shall see my blessed Saviour, Who so freely died for me, We shall rise, we shall rise.
In the resurrection morning, We shall meet Him in the air, We shall rise, we shall rise! And be carried up to glory, To our home so bright and fair, We shall rise, we shall rise.
We shall rise! Hallelujah! Amen! We shall rise! In the resurrection morning When death’s prison bars are broken, We shall rise, Hallelujah, we shall rise!
“Jesus died on Friday, but Sunday’s comin’!” was a rallying cry of slaves to not lose hope. Most pagan music is written in the minor key. Thus Robert Lowry wrote this famous Easter hymn, “Christ Arose!” in the minor key: No hope, no joy. But the chorus roars on into the major key…. “Up from the grave He arose!” Even the sound of music spells out the grandeur of Christ’s powerful victory over death.
Low in the grave He lay—Waiting the coming day—Vainly they watch His bed—Vainly they seal the dead—Jesus my Lord!
Death cannot keep his prey—Jesus my Savior! He tore the bars away—Jesus my Lord!
Up from the grave He arose, With a mighty triumph o’er His foes; He arose a Victor from the dark domain, And He lives forever with His saints to reign, He arose! He arose! Hallelujah! Christ arose!
Crucifixion Friday’s here, but Easter Sunday’s comin’. This is the Sunday Song of Triumph. All you can say is Alleluia, which means, “Praise the Lord.” “Praise Almighty God.” For what? Jesus, by arising from the dead proved that He broke Satan’s power, death’s fear and the grave’s pull downward. In exchange He gave us this assurance:
Christ the Lord is risen today, Sons of men and angels say, Raise your joys and triumphs high. Sing, ye heavens, and earth reply.
Lives again our glorious King; Where, O death, is now thy sting? Dying once, He all doth save; Where thy victory, O grave?
Love’s redeeming work is done, Fought the fight, the battle won; Death in vain forbids Him rise; Chist has opened Paradise.
Soar we now, where Christ has led, Following our exalted Head; Made like Him, like Him we rise; Ours the cross, the grave, the skies, Alleluia!
Your answer, “That’s easy for you to say, but just look around….who knows. It’s Easter? The stores are open, the trains are full, cars clog the streets, people couldn’t care less. (Ooops, that means they’re careless.) Just a few go to church. I’ve got all I can do to get out of bed, pay the rent and eke out a living. I can’t even face tomorrow with all the uncertainty.”
The victorious Christian answers, “That’s exactly why I can face tomorrow!” Bill and Gloria Gaither put it to music in “Because He Lives!”
God sent His Son—they called Him Jesus, He came to love, heal and forgive, He lived and died to buy my pardon, An empty grave is there to prove my Savior lives.
How sweet to hold a newborn baby, And feel the pride and joy he gives; But greater still the calm assurance: This child can face uncertain days because Christ lives.
And then one day I’ll cross the river, I’ll fight life’s final war with pain; And then as death gives way to victory, I’ll see the lights of glory—and I’ll know He lives.
Because He lives I can face tomorrow, Because He lives all fear is gone; Because I know He holds the future And life is worth the living just because He lives.
Documenting this amazing statement, which is contrary to every history or guidebook on Japan, are Kenny Joseph’s two books: the bi-lingual one is Japan’s Jizo and Jesus, from the author at ¥2,000; and the Japanese-language Jujika no Kuni, Nippon, published by Tokuma Shoten, ¥1,500, available at all secular bookstores.