After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb.
2 There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. 3 His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. 4 The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men.
5 The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. 6 He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. 7 Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.”
8 So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. 9 Suddenly Jesus met them. “Greetings,” he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him. 10 Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.” Matthew 28:1-10
It’s Holy Week. The week we celebrate our Savior. The week we remember his sacrifice on the cross for our sins. The week we remember his mighty triumph over sin and death.
With Easter upon us, I’ve been contemplating the resurrection.
The resurrection is central to Christianity. It sets us apart from other religions. Most every religion has a central figure, but only in Christianity do we find the power to conquer death, the power to live again.
And that is where we, as Christians, find hope.
We have hope for eternal life with our Savior. We have hope that we will one day be reunited with our loved ones who have passed from this temporal life into eternity. We have hope that one day every tear will be wiped away, there will be no more sadness nor sorrow. We have hope that one day we will be in the presence of the One who loves us enough to die for us.
But what about hope here on this earth? While I long for heaven and to be with my Savior… I long to embrace my grandparents who are in heaven waiting… I long for that place of eternal peace and love… But I don’t believe that my work on earth is finished. Does the resurrection offer hope to us while still here on this earth?
The dictionary definition of resurrect is to restore a dead person to life. Jesus himself declared, ”I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; 26 and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25-26).
Jesus is the resurrection. Jesus is the life.
While we recognize the significance of the resurrection for the life to come, I think we sometimes fail to see its importance here on this earth. The crux of Christianity is the resurrection.
Yes. The resurrection is about Christ’s conquering sin and death, without a doubt.
Yes. The resurrection gives us hope for a future life with our Savior.
But for me, the resurrection gives me hope in every hopeless situation.
You see, Christ is all about life and hope and a beautiful future (Jeremiah 29:11). He is all about taking every situation and making it work for our good (Romans 8:28). He is all about living a full and abundant life here on this earth (John 10:10).
So doesn’t it stand to reason that the resurrection is for today as much as it is our future?
Life can be tough. Perhaps you are walking through the pain of adultery as I have. Perhaps you are in a difficult marriage, clinging to hope that God will step in and heal it. Perhaps you are walking through the dark days of addiction. Perhaps you are the parent of a prodigal child. Perhaps you are suffering the immense pain of loss of a loved one. Perhaps you are walking through a period of financial devastation. Perhaps you are suffering from unemployment.
Life is full of losses and pain. We are told in John 16:33 that we will have trouble in this world. But, Christ follows that up with the promise that we can have hope because He has overcome the world!
When I walked through the darkest days of my life, days filled with adultery and pain, I often felt as if I was dead. The life had been drained from me. My life had shattered, never to be repaired. The beautiful future that I expected had been devastated in a moment. My hope was gone. I would have preferred to be with my Savior in heaven rather than still walking this earth in pain.
And yet, here I am some five years later! Life is beautiful! My life is better than I ever dreamed. For the first time, I truly feel that I am living the abundant life that Christ came to offer. I get up each and every day, excited to see what my Savior might have in store for me. I wonder what opportunity I might have to share his love, to be his hands and feet. Who might cross my path that needs a simple word of encouragement? How can I share the joy that just wells up inside of me?
You see, my Savior has resurrected me from death to life—right here on this earth! The dead woman lives again!
And, that’s his plan for each of us. When we face death on this earth—death of a dream, death of a future, death of anything—God has the power and desire to step in and resurrect it, to restore us from a place of death to life.
Think about Joseph, rotting in a prison for some 13 or so years. He had a dream as a child. He walked through betrayal, slavery, and prison. His dream was as good as dead.
God stepped in and raised him to a place of honor. God fulfilled his dreams just as he promised. God took all the bad in his life and used it for good.
Or consider Ruth. Her husband passed away. She left her homeland in a move of loyalty to her mother-in-law. She was a widow, no future, dependent upon the goodness of those around her.
God stepped in and brought along a kinsman-redeemer, one who would love her and treasure her. God gave her a beautiful future and allowed her to be in the lineage of Jesus Christ himself. Talk about restoring life from death!
Or think about Peter. Peter, one of Christ’s most loved disciples. Peter, who walked on water. Peter, who was full of zeal for his Savior. Peter, who in Christ’s most painful, difficult moments, denied that he even knew his friend. Peter, who had to feel such shame and guilt and pain as he heard the rooster crow. Peter, who had expressed his unwavering love for his Savior who now stood alone knowing how miserably he had failed.
God stepped into that moment of unbelievable denial and failure and transformed Peter. Peter, who became the rock upon which the church is built. Peter, who was rescued from shame and guilt to become a powerful force for Christ here on this earth. Peter, who was truly resurrected from sin to new life.
I don’t know what you are facing this beautiful Easter weekend. I don’t know if you are dealing with your sin or the sin of someone else. I don’t know if you are facing betrayal or hurt or pain. I don’t know if you feel like you are dead. But, I do know that the One who died on a cross many years ago for our sins has the power to resurrect you to a full and abundant life right here on this earth.
Don’t give up! Life is available to all who seek!
Lord Jesus, what a beautiful time to remember your sacrifice on the cross for our sins. What joy to know that you loved us so much that you gave up your own life to give us hope for our own. What joy it brings that we can look to the empty tomb to know that death is never the end of the story. Thank you for giving us life and hope—in this life and the life to come!
Happy Resurrection Day, my friends!