Resurrection Day

(my apologies:  this originally posted late Saturday as a draft.  Errors now corrected!)

Today, Saturday, late in the evening, Jesus’ disciples had to be utterly awash in disappointment, disillusionment, distress, and not a little fear.  Their Lord had died on a Roman cross, tortured for reasons as political as religious, leaving them, they thought, with nothing but shattered hopes and dreams and a weariness I can scarcely imagine.  The fear and loss likely was most poignantly felt and expressed by the women, the ones who stayed at the foot of the cross ’til the end — ’til their defeated, beaten, dying Rabbi finally called out “Father, unto Thee I commend my Spirit.”

When, moments before his death, Jesus cried out, “It is finished,” his friends were not, they thought, being told anything new.  It was indeed “finished” — their hopes for relief from the twin burdens of Roman oppression, which was profoundly familiar to them, and of sin, the depth of which he had made known to them.  He was dead, disfigured — gone, soon to be forgotten by his tormentors and remembered only in disappointment by his followers.  The hopes of those Jews who dared believe he was the promised Messiah died with him that day, and, as is so often the case, were dashed in even sharper, clearer detail on the morning after.

Life would never be the same for them, while remaining distressingly, violently, horribly the same.

But Mary went to the tomb early the morning of the third day, expecting nothing but a quiet place to mourn.  She found the stone rolled away, the tomb empty.  It seemed that the horror of her loss was drenched with the added obscenity of his body being stolen — desecrated, no doubt, and befouled by his enemies.  I cannot imagine the depth of her despair.

Until Jesus, the one she called Rabbi and friend — more to the point, the One who called her friend — revealed himself to her.  He was Jesus, now fully alive, as alive that morning as he had been dead the two days before.  Waves of promises fulfilled and hopes realized washed over her and, later, the other disciples, until some 500 people could testify that the One they saw killed — not made faint, not simply swooning, not merely unconscious, but with the spark of life in every cell and fiber of his body and spirit extinguished — had truly risen from the dead.  He claimed victory over death and defeated it to its very cold, hard core, and he lived among them until he ascended some 40 days later into his Father’s Heaven.

And he lives today.  Every wise man and teacher, prophet and poet, priest, preacher, and politician, will die or already has.  Jesus is different.  Jesus kicked death to Hell, and Jesus lives.

I live today in the body because I haven’t died yet.  Someday, my body will die.  But because my Lord and Savior died and rose again, my death will be nothing less than an instantaneous translation from alive and hanging out in Moscow, Idaho, to alive and living in glory, a glory not my own nor achievable by anything I’ve ever done, with the Triune God in eternity. 

I owe everything I am, have been, will be, and ever hope for to the One alive now and forever more.  On this and every day, Christ is my all in all, the fulfillment — the resounding, robust “Yes!” — of every promise made by God.  And today and every day, I worship him; I live only because of the hope I have in his life.  This is the message of the Christian faith:  A dead man, fully human and fully God, was lain in a tomb, and three days later, a victoriously alive man, fully God and fully human, burst out with an inextinguishable love that never fails, never falters, and never frees only for this life, but for all eternity.

The message of Easter is the message of eternal life in the One who lives eternally after dying temporally.  No tomb could contain him, and no heart can be fully alive without him.

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