Yesterday Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, received her promotion to the highest kingdom. Chief among the long list of others to whom she offered a lifetime of service and sacrifice, she was a faithful and devoted follower of Jesus Christ.
Before we continue, allow me to welcome you to “Mornings with Bishop Robert” — I offer my condolences to the many people who were impacted by her life and will miss her in her passing.
It used to be that I’d get up each morning for prayer, and only afterwards determine the scripture verse to be used for that day. But a couple of months ago the Lord began to give me a series of verses and the order that I was to use them over the coming days. So, for example, five days ago the Lord Jesus gave me the specific verse for each day for three weeks! The verse He chose for today has an even greater significance given yesterday’s events.
In today’s verse Jesus says I AM THE RESURRECTION AND THE LIFE
When confronted with the death of a monarch, a world leader or someone of celebrity, it brings one fact into instant focus and makes us each mindful of our own mortality. The royal and the regular will both face the same final end. God’s acceptance as citizens of the final kingdom is determined by our acceptance of the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Our place in the next kingdom will be determined by our service to The Crown (the ULTIMATE Crown, not one of a mere worldly dominion) in this one. Whether one lived in castles or tents in this life will not be a determining factor for where and how you will live in the next life.
In one of the earliest written books of the bible, the prophet Job spoke about God as the one who had removed the crown from his head saying, “But know that my Redeemer lives, and in the end He will stand upon the earth. Even after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God. I will see Him for myself; my eyes will behold Him, and not as a stranger.
How my heart yearns within me!”
MY REDEEMER is a personal term. We all need to be redeemed, because none of us has lived this life perfectly. The justice system does not weigh the number of laws you haven’t broken versus the number you have to determine guilt or innocence. Being guilty of breaking one law makes you guilty! Yesterday we spoke about how those desiring forgiveness would come and offer a spotless lamb as an external sign of their internal repentance. Would you note that the priest examined the lamb – THE OFFERING – and not the sinner to determine whether God’s pardon could be pronounced. Someone who showed up at the temple without the lamb and simply told the priest that they had done their best to be a good person would not receive forgiveness no matter how good they had been. Everyone has failed in some manner of sin and fallen short. But when an acceptable lamb was offered, the forgiveness was offered regardless of how sinful the person repenting had been.
My point is that you and I have been given the very Lamb of God to present as an offering for our sin. He is the perfect offering. Can you say, “Jesus is MY REDEEMER?” It is a personal choice, a choice that Her Majesty had very clearly made. Don’t show up at the gates of heaven without the offering of the Lamb of God.
“I AM THE RESURRECTION AND THE LIFE,” says the Lord. “Whoever believes in Me, though they die, yet shall they live; and everyone who lives and believes in Me shall never die.”
In a very real sense, the Queen is not dead. In the most real sense she is now in the presence of the One whom she recognized as her sovereign – His Majesty the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords.
His promise holds. “Everyone who lives and believes in Me shall never die.” EVERYONE. That’s a group you join by your own choice, but joining requires a choice. The incredibly high cost of dues for a lifetime membership have been paid, but membership must be accepted.
We all begin in the same place, trapped in the kingdom of darkness, ruled over by an enemy intent upon our death and destruction. But the One who said I AM THE RESURRECTION AND THE LIFE has come. He has rescued us from the kingdom of darkness and brought us into His kingdom, the kingdom of light and love. In the King of Kings we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
Let us be mindful of our own mortality and choose our kingdoms wisely, as Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth did.
O God, who by the glorious resurrection of your Son Jesus Christ destroyed death and brought life and immortality to light: Grant that your servant Elizabeth, being raised with Christ, may know the strength of His presence and rejoice in His eternal glory; who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.