“On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightening stood beside them. In their fright, the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen!” Luke 24:1-6
HE IS RISEN! ALLELUIA!
Easter always been the most meaningful holiday for me. When I was young, my sister and I would dye eggs with our dad on Saturday night. It was one of only special traditions we had with him. After the eggs were colored and sitting in their little cardboard ring holders, we went to bed early, really early! At our church, Easter Sunday meant sunrise services at 6:30! But even in my groggy state, I loved that tradition and the yummy Easter breakfast in the church basement afterward.
The church I attend today doesn’t have 6:30 a.m. services, but I still love the beautiful ceremony. A kaleidoscope of colorful spring plants adorn the entire front of the church. Joyful voices accompanied by trumpets and timpani sing praises. Little children are dressed in frilly new Easter dresses and uncomfortable bow ties that moms bribed them into wearing just one day.
But my favorite part is the most powerful best news ever–Christ is Risen!
I’ve always believed this statement, but it has become the foundational truth that guides my life since my husband Tom is now part of the great cloud of witnesses waiting for me in heaven with Jesus.
Jesus’ closest followers had lived with Him for three years. They left all they had to follow Him. On that terrible night in the Garden of Gethsemane, they all fled. I know I would have as well if I were faced with the fear and threats they experienced.
Those who stayed watched their best friend and teacher, the one who claimed to be the Messiah, die a horrible, gruesome death on the cross.
The disciples and followers of Jesus were crushed. They wept. They grieved. They were confused and in shock.
And they were afraid. They hid behind locked doors. Their leader was gone and there was no one stepping forward to take His place or to help them regroup.
Death sucks. There’s no other way to describe it. It’s touched my life deeply. It’s touched many of yours. I’ve cried tears to the point of exhaustion. I’ve woken every morning wondering what day it is and if it’s still a nightmare that Tom is gone. I’ve been overwhelmed at times and confused about what to do.
But I’m not afraid. Because even though the disciples were hiding and mourning behind closed doors, the most amazing thing happened: Jesus, their friend and leader suddenly appeared with them!
A few days later He appeared to them again and this time said something to them with us in His heart. “A week later His disciples were in the house again and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you.’ Then He said to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.’ Thomas said to Him, ‘My Lord and my God!’ Then Jesus told him, ‘Because you have seen, you believe. Blessed are those who have not seen, yet believe.'” John 20:26-29
That’s us! Jesus looked all the way 2,000 years into the future and spoke these words for us!
Several weeks after the resurrection, these same disciples who were lost and terrified and locked behind closed doors were boldly walking the streets of Jerusalem proclaiming the Good News that Jesus rose from the dead and was alive! They faced those who had put Him to death at the risk of flogging, imprisonment, even death to be witnesses to the truth of what they saw–a risen Christ. The rest of their lives they lived led by this great truth. Everyone who knew them couldn’t deny the change in them.
John Eldridge in his book, “All Things New” says, “If it is anything at all worth talking about, Christianity is supposed to be the triumphant entry of an astonishing hope breaking into human history. A hope above and beyond all former hopes. An unbreakable, unquenchable hope.” He goes on to say that because Jesus rose from the dead, as His followers, our lives never end. “If you woke each morning and your heart leapt with hope, knowing that the renewal of all things was just around the corner—might even come today—you would be one happy person! If you knew in every fiber of your being that nothing is lost, that everything will be restored to you and then some, you would be armored against discouragement and despair. If your heart’s imagination were filled with rich expectations of all the goodness coming to you, your confidence would be contagious; you would be unstoppable, revolutionary.”
1 Peter 1:3 also declares, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In His great mercy He has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade.”
One of my favorite Easter anthems, “Now all the Vault of Heaven Resounds,” declares “Oh fill us Lord with dauntless love! Set hearts and wills on things above, that we conquer through your triumph! Grant grace sufficient for life’s day that by our lives we truly say, ‘Christ has triumphed! He is living!'”
Shouldn’t the world notice a difference in us if we believe this?
The disciples couldn’t do what they did alone. Only the Power that raised Jesus from the dead could create this change when it came into them. I can’t do it alone either. If it was up to me and my strength, I’d have wasted away in bed a long time ago.
I still grieve and miss Tom, but I am totally confident that he is ALIVE with the risen and living Lord! And we will be together again with Jesus forever! What a wonderful promise and hope!
Heavenly Father–I praise and glorify You for Your incredible love and grace that, because You longed for us to be in relationship with You so badly, You sacrificed Your only Son to pay the price for our sin. Fill us with the Holy Spirit so that the world can see by our lives that we believe this great and awesome truth–that Jesus is Risen! He is alive! Help us to receive Your peace, boldness and unending joy. In His Risen name. Amen.