“Jesus Is Risen”
While I was on holiday in Europe in 2013, I visited many of the centuries old Cathedrals. Coming from New Zealand where our history only dates back three or four hundred years, I was inspired by their architectural craftsmanship, their beautiful stained glass windows and their large walled paintings that were painted to help those who were illiterate to embrace the gospel.
When visiting one of the Cathedrals, I watched a young women in a wheelchair come into the Church, her friend or caregiver carefully positioned her beneath the beautifully carved image of Jesus upon the cross. As the young disabled women faced her loving saviour, I watched her face light up in glorious adoration for Him, and I felt that she truly didn’t see her own disability when she looked upon His broken body.
I was saddened to see her being held captive to her condition and I wondered if she knew that Jesus wasn’t up there on the cross anymore, that He had risen, He was alive and by His Spirit and in His name He could heal her.
“I have risen my beautiful daughter, I could hear Him say, these walls around you are beautiful and they are made in honour of me, but this is just a place where one gathers in my name, I have risen and I am alive”.
Matthew 28: 6, He is not here; for He is risen, as He said. Come see the place where the Lord lay. And go quickly and tell His disciples that He has risen from the dead. The Lord then went ahead of them as He does for us, risen and alive in the resurrection power of the blessed Holy Spirit.
My question is this, have our Church’s become a place of refuge, instead of Jesus being our place of refuge?
I believe many religions over history have built what I call spiritual architectures, those added ornate patterns of spiritual regulations that have confused the body of Christ, which has separated them from the simple Gospel of grace. In essence these architectures of religion have restricted what Jesus actually needed to be resurrected in and with, that is the power and person of God, the blessed Holy Spirit.
Matthew 24: 1-2, Jesus left the temple and was walking away when his disciples came to him to call his attention to its buildings. (They also were magnificent) “Do you see all these things? He asked. “I tell you the truth, not one stone will be left on another, every one will be thrown down.
Of course Jesus was proclaiming to His disciples a new order of God’s covenant that was going to complete the Old covenant law, but Jesus was also revealing that the people had become reliant on the grand architectural beauty and richness of the Temple, that was structurally creating false hope.
Where there is refuge, there is rest, a rest and knowledge that one is safe from the pursuit of an enemy. During the Second World War Switzerland became a country of refuge, and in the unseen spiritual wars above, the powers and principalities of the unseen enemy, it is Jesus who becomes our place of refuge. I can imagine myriads of powerful angels protecting all of those who enter into His place of refuge.
When the Church was birthed at the point of Christ’s death and resurrection, it was birthed out of a borrowed tomb, a gifted linen grave cloth and there was nothing architecturally grandeur about it. It was just some stonemasons chisel marks in a cave, and it was just how our loving King and Saviour was born too, born in a borrowed stable.
Romans 8: 1-4, Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in sinful man, in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit.
There is a wonderful teaching on the past cities of refuge that reveal Christ Jesus today as our city of refuge by Myriam Voisin: