Do I dare say the same thing about the British Empire? It rose to become a mighty empire, the British Empire. It came as far as New Zealand, the furthest land from Britain itself and it became a colony in the British Empire. We have English in the whole world today as the world language and in many aspects of business life; an important language thanks to the British Empire. But where is Britain today? It seems to be swallowed up by the European community, to lose their identity, to lose the British pound, sterling and so forth. It is going to happen very slowly swallowed by former enemies. There was the rise and fall of the British Empire, BUT with the Word of God, with the Kingdom of God it says, “First of all comes the falling, and then the rising again to NEVER fall again.” The rising for eternal life for all eternity; it’s eternal this kingdom but it begins with the falling, and are we prepared to fall? What are the words of Jesus? “If you fall on this stone, you shall be broken, but on whom the stone falls, they will be crushed to power.” It is so simple to understand. The gospel comes and speaks to us, and we realise our pride must be broken, our wills, our whole being must be broken. We must be prepared to fall on Christ, on the Stone which is Christ Jesus. If we fall on Him, there will be a rising for all eternity for this great empire of the Kingdom of Heaven. No falling ever again but first of all the fall, then afterwards comes the rising again.
I like to think of this verse also in this light. Sometimes, experiences come which are not easy. It might be bad health or some tragedy in the family or death or sickness or illness or a disappointment. It might even be out there in the work life where we have become redundant or business goes bankrupt, etc. It could even be problems in the family or marriage, just so much happens in life, and things come to crush us but if we can learn to fall first of all, when these things come, these tragedies, disappointments, these negative things, which would if they could, they would really crush us. We lose all hope for life on the earth and for the future. If we could just learn to FALL. Fall on the Rock, fall on Christ, fall on the will of God then they won’t crush us but we often resist and we fight against it, we won’t bow and give in to it. We want to change everything instead of just falling, accepting what life may bring, putting God first in all things. “If ye be risen with Christ.” Before we can rise there must be a falling, falling upon the Rock.
Once there in Switzerland, we went out for a walk and we climbed to the top of a hill. On this hill, there was an old stone fortress that had been used perhaps a thousand years ago in the Swiss history. Today, it’s just a monument, this fortress on the hill. Gazing over the countryside, I saw two other hills not very far away and on the top of each hill, there was a fortress which had been used back in the olden days in times of war. I understood that day that they built fortresses on the top of the hill, not in the valley, not half way up, but on top of the hill. It was an advantage when the enemy came, to be above the enemy. Often the enemy was strong, powerful, and numerous, and a lot of soldiers came. But if those in the fortress, even if they were outnumbered, were above the enemy, they had a big advantage. They could shoot the arrows down and throw stones down as they sometimes did. They would boil big cauldrons of fat and oil and tip out the boiling oil on those climbing up the mountainside. It was a BIG advantage to be on the top, to have the fortress up there on the hill. Sometimes we get up in the morning, but the old man lies in bed. Our being, our thoughts, our attitude, or what we are and the body rises but what is within us remains down? It is always an advantage to reach the fortress, to get up on top at the beginning of the day, to face the day, and have victory in our lives and the right aspect of life. It is possible through the help of God.
The story of Paul of all they had to arise. “Arise, Joshua, arise thou and all people, go over this Jordan.” “If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above…”
There is one more small thought, Joseph. In that dream, he had one night, his sheaf arose and stood and the sheaves of his brethren bowed down before Joseph’s. Have you ever seen sheaves? I suppose you have. We have them there in Switzerland where they cut the wheat by hand sometimes, and they make the sheaves out of a number of the stalks of grain. There might be 30-70 stalks bound together. Then they make three or four sheaves and they lean them against each other and leave them out in the fields for a number of days, so the sun may finish the work to ripen the grain. Then after a few days, they are taken into the barn to be threshed and so on. I have never yet seen one sheaf standing alone. They just can’t. You stand a sheaf up; take your hand away and it falls over. It can’t stand alone. There was Joseph, he arose and he stood. In every experience, in every disappointment, in every hard task in his life, there in the pit, being sold as a slave to the Egyptians, there in Potiphar’s house, he didn’t fail. A young virile man, he as tempted but he stood firm. There in the prison, in despair, darkness, forgotten, and in discouragement, he could have thought what is the point of it all. I could take being treated as a slave, I could take the pit, I could take Potiphar’s wife and all her treachery, but being here in prison is just too much, he could have said. But no, his sheaf stood firm. It never fell. He stood all the way through and stood alone without fellowship, and without help from others. Why? Because an invisible hand was holding him from above. You and I will arise and will stay standing in every experience if this invisible hand from above can hold our lives up. But it is up to us to arise. Isn’t it easy to be dragged down and crushed by this life, and crushed by experiences and lose all hope and become depressed, and think it is not worth even trying? But no, if you get on your knees; arise as far as your knees, God will put you on your feet. Once on your feet, He will hold you. Just keep true, there is no limit to the power of God.
“If ye be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above.” As we said before, the life, the teachings, the preaching, the death, perfection in every aspect would have all been in vain if He had not risen on the third day. It is the resurrection life that is so important, and so wonderful to know. We don’t just follow the teachings of Jesus, we don’t just accept the sacrifice on Calvary’s cross, we go further than this. We can have the power to get above everything and just soar to the heights like the eagle can soar to the very highest point. As far as I know, there is not a bird which soars higher than the eagle. It doesn’t fly, it is carried on those thermal currents by an invisible strength. It just soars higher and higher into the highest point of life for a bird, carried by another power. “If ye be risen…” But I know the young eagle, standing on the edge of its nest for the very first flight, is afraid. It sees so far down to the bottom of the mountainside and the fear of falling precedes the thrill of soaring. We can be risen Christians, not just dying to self but risen resurrected Christians and life today is to overcome the fear of falling in that sense, “If ye be risen.” I hope God will help us to have more of this risen life in our own hearts and beings.