It’s amazing how excited we human beings can get when someone wins a big event or completes an amazing feat. We talk of giving someone a standing ovation, like when athletes complete the marathon and enter the Olympic stadium. As the winner completes their final lap everyone rises to their feet to honour them. We love to shout and cheer and celebrate such a victory. It’s an acknowledgment of something very special. Traditionally the Olympians would also have been given a crown of laurel to signify that they were the champions, that they had beaten the opposition and had won the day.
I was thinking today, what an incredible reception must have awaited Jesus in heaven as He arose from the dead. We know that His bodily ascension to heaven took place some time later but I’m thinking that He must have gone back to His Father in Spirit before that time. We don’t know a lot about where He went and what He did in His spirit for the three days that He was bodily in the tomb. It would appear from 1 Peter 3:19 that He went down into hell and preached to the imprisoned spirits of those who had died in the time of Noah.
I once heard another preacher say that he believed that while Jesus was there He also went up to satan and said ‘Now I’ll have the keys please!’. By His death He had paid the price for our freedom from sin and its consequence – our death, and by His resurrection He had totally disempowered satan. It may well have been at this moment that He took back the keys of death and hell, Revelation 1:18.
The standing ovation, the noise, the joy and adoration that must have been His, as He enters that heavenly realm, after His resurrection, and when, coming before His Father, He says “I’ve got the keys back Father, I’ve paid the price and we’ve won”.
Easter day is surely a time to celebrate. We know that Jesus is alive everyday, but this year I am sensing that we do need really need these special days to remember and celebrate. That just as festivals and celebrations were an integral part of the Israelites ‘remembering’ what God had done for them, so we too need to have times when we can just immerse ourselves again in the triumphs of our God.
Jesus victory deserves a standing ovation, and I think that there are probably few people who have expressed that sense of celebration as well as Matthew Bridges did nearly two hundred years ago. May the inspired words of his now famous hymn, that I have written below, help you to celebrate for yourself this Easter.
Crown Him with many crowns, The Lamb upon His throne. Hark how the heavenly anthem drowns all music but its own. Awake my soul and sing of Him who died for thee, and hail Him as thy matchless King through all eternity.
Crown Him the Lord of life, who triumphed o’er the grave and rose victorious in the strife for those He came to save: His glories now we sing, who died and rose on high, who died eternal life to bring and lives that death may die.
Crown Him the Lord of years, the Potentate of time, Creator of the rolling spheres ineffably sublime! All hail, Redeemer, hail! For thou hast died for me; Thy praise shall never, never fail throughout eternity.