“We don’t really celebrate Easter as a family,” my friend told me with a shrug that seemed just a little bit regretful. I immediately stopped what I was doing and sat down to hear more. And as she recounted bits and pieces of her childhood, memories of fasting and rules that made little sense to a child, rituals “that probably had some symbolism to them,” readings to commemorate Jesus’ death…. it seemed pretty clear why she had left it behind long ago. “It was all a rather solemn affair,” she concluded, shaking her head.
But here in the middle of Passion Week, with fresh graves still crying out, and people we love fighting hard against this frail mortality, I wonder how a person can manage to live without looking forward to that one gloriously empty Garden Tomb at the end of the week. Jesus crucified has shown Himself to be Lord and Savior resurrected, and what we think we know about the world suddenly rearranges itself. This is the crux of the Good News. As Paul wrote to the early believers, everything we believe and do hinges on the events of this one weekend. The Resurrection is a reality that blazes bright in the middle of all our darkness, the proof of who Jesus is and what He accomplished for us– a lighthouse pointing us toward Hope and Home. I always thought of Easter as a day to celebrate, I tell her, because Jesus rose again…
And Jesus told His followers that death is only the prelude to life: “I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat is planted in the soil and dies, it remains alone. But its death will produce many new kernels—a plentiful harvest of new lives.” (John 12:24) We see it in gardens everywhere, and the Garden in the Beginning where death crept in was already looking forward to Life flooding from the Garden Tomb. So we come to Easter with hearts full of joy, for the Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead is changing us day by day, His power healing and restoring what was broken– new life springing up everywhere, with much more to come. “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love Him.” (2 Corinthians 2:9) Because Easter is not really a commemoration at all, but a victory celebration.
“…let me reveal to you a wonderful secret. We will not all die, but we will all be transformed! It will happen in a moment, in the blink of an eye, when the last trumpet is blown. For when the trumpet sounds, those who have died will be raised to live forever. And we who are living will also be transformed. For our dying bodies must be transformed into bodies that will never die; our mortal bodies must be transformed into immortal bodies….
But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ. So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.” (1 Corinthians 15:51-53,57-58)
His final breath upon the cross
Is now alive in me!
All praise, will rise
To Christ, our king.
From the ashes of defeat;
The resurrected King, is resurrecting me.
In Your name I come alive
To declare Your victory:
The resurrected King, is resurrecting me.”
(Resurrecting, Elevation Worship)