Scripture: Isaiah 55:12; Psalm 118:14-17; Matthew 28 1-10
There’s one last, loving act that the women will do before everything about Jesus’ burial is finished. The Sabbath came before they could anoint Him properly for burial. This they will do on this Sunday morning as soon as the darkness lifts enough so that they can make their way to the tomb. As they approach the tomb, they are shocked to find the heavy stone rolled back from the entrance and the body of Jesus gone!
They find that they are not alone in the garden. They are greeted by an angel, a man clothed in white, a messenger of God, with the news that Jesus is alive, just as He promised!
- Death has been defeated!
- Grief has been turned to unspeakable joy!
- Mourning has been turned to dancing!
- Jesus has risen, just as He said! (Mt 28:6)
During these past 40 days we have observed a time of personal reflection upon ourselves and upon the life of Jesus. We
- watched Him struggle with Satan in the wilderness;
- watched Him as He was transfigured;
- saw how He healed the sick and performed many miracles;
- saw Him call forth Lazarus from the dead.
We went with Him to Jerusalem and waved our palms and threw down our garments before Him as He entered Jerusalem. We realized that there would be no turning back for Judas and that Jesus would die.
As Jesus lay in the tomb on the night that we call Good Friday and all of Black Saturday, it must have seemed that
- hate had triumphed over love;
- evil had triumphed over righteousness;
- Satan had finally won the victory over Jesus.
But God will always have the last word!
And so, as Christians, as followers of Jesus Christ, we live always in the “Third Day.” We live always as resurrection people. It is the message of the angel at the tomb. The anguish of Friday and the gloom of Saturday have passed. Because God has defeated death, the “Third Day” is forever!
Much of the time we may feel as though we live in a Good Friday world where hurt, injustice, grief, insecurity, death, and uncertainty abound. But the message of Easter is about A NEW BEGINNING. A new beginning is at the heart of the Christian faith. Easter is the power of God creating something new and alive and glorious out of something old and dead and ordinary. Easter is about leaving behind the old rituals and the old man-made requirements, and opening up God’s grace to everyone.
Easter is about telling us that how it was is not how it is! It is now a new covenant between God and all of God’s beloved creation.
- Law has become grace.
- Ritual has become transformation.
- Sacrifice has been satisfied on the cross.
Easter is about newness of life for all people who would follow Jesus and invite Him to be Lord of their life. For example, we read in the scriptures that
- Peter, who denied Jesus, became the bedrock of Christ’s new creation, the Church,
- James, who found it hard to believe that his half brother was the Messiah, became the leader of the church in Jerusalem,
- Saul, breathing out threats against all who followed Christ, became Paul and gave his very life to bring the Gospel to the known world.
Easter is about New Beginnings.
EASTER IS ALSO ABOUT A NEW RELATIONSHIP
Easter says that we are to love one another as Jesus loves us. Because of our new relationship with Christ there is the possibility of newness in our relationships with others. Easter promises us that tragedy and oppression and angst and disappointment and sorrow are not forever.
Although at times it may not seem like it, “The kingdom of this world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of the Messiah, and he will reign forever and ever.” (Rev.11:15)
EASTER IS ABOUT NEW BEGINNINGS
EASTER IS ABOUT NEW RELATIONSHIPS
EASTER IS ALSO ABOUT NEW PURPOSE FOR LIVING
Easter frees us to listen to the voice of God and have the courage to follow God’s leading for our lives, wherever that takes us. Easter frees us to look for new ways to bring the love of Christ into the world where we live.
The disciple John would later write, “This is love: not that we loved God, but that God loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” (1 John 4:10)
On this holiest of days in the Christian year
- may our spirits be renewed by the presence of Christ,
- may our spirits be made fully alive through the presence of the Holy Spirit working within us.
On this holiest of days let us give as much of ourselves as we know to as much of God that we know.
The Lord is Risen! He is Risen Indeed!