“More than any other time in history, mankind faces a crossroads. One path leads to despair and utter hopelessness. The other, to total extinction. Let us pray we have the wisdom to choose correctly.” Woody Allen
Is there anything worse than hopelessness? I’ve been down that dead end road more times than I want to remember. It seems there is no way out, it’s futile…all hope is gone.
Can we even then begin to imagine what the disciples and Jesus’ followers must have felt when He cried out, “It is finished!”? It was the death of hope. No wonder they hid out in the upper room. Sure, they were frightened of the Jewish leaders but I think they huddled together in mutual hopelessness.
Jesus’ resurrection is a message of many things. One of the greatest has to be that there is hope! The greatest enemy any of us will ever face is death, yet Jesus conquered death when He arose bodily from that tomb. And with His victory, He gave us hope.
Sadly, we’ve tamed or domesticated Easter. It’s become just another holiday. It’s often devolved into little more than Easter egg hunts or baby chicks, rabbits or ducks. It’s about new clothes or family get-togethers. BUT it’s not! Sadly, even in the Church we’ve re-made Easter into something dull and bland. I heard of a church a few years ago where on Easter the pastor threw out beach balls, making it a big party. But Easter is not about springtime and renewal. It’s not gentle or warm and fuzzy.
Read the biblical account. The Gospels shout at us with words and phrases like “terrified,” “bowed their faces to the ground” and “amazed by what had happened.” Those followers of Jesus had just gone through an unimaginably traumatic experience. Their beloved leader, who’d been called the Messiah and the King of the Jews, had been horribly tortured by Roman soldiers in Jerusalem only three days earlier and then publicly executed by the cruel, gruesome act of nailing Him to a cross. These were the most despondent and demoralized of people. They fled and sought to not to be associated with Jesus at the end. They were nowhere to be found – leaving only a few loyal women like Mary Magdalene and His mother, Mary, at the foot of the cross.
Author, Annie Dillard, in her book, “Teaching a Stone to Talk: Expeditions and Encounters,” catches our domestication: “On the whole, I do not find Christians, outside of catacombs, sufficiently sensible of conditions. Does anyone have the foggiest idea what sort of power we so blithely invoke? Or, as I suspect, does no one believe a word of it? The churches are children playing on the floor with their chemistry sets, mixing up a batch of TNT to kill a Sunday morning. It is madness to wear ladies straw hats and velvet hats to church; we should all be wearing crash helmets. Ushers should issue life preservers and signal flares; they should lash us to our pews. For the sleeping God may wake someday and take offense, or the waking God may draw us out to where we can never return.” Easter is so awesomely powerful that we need a bomb disposal suit and a crash helmet. Easter is power beyond what we can imagine apart from Scripture and the eyes of faith, because Easter is true hope.
Easter means that a holy God is satisfied! Jesus died to pay for our sins, the world’s sins, all sin – past, present and future. And a holy, just God is satisfied – the debt has been paid. For those who have come to the Cross and trusted Christ as their personal Lord and Savior, there is no more guilt. The debt has been wiped clean. Jesus paid it all, (Romans 8:1). The only reason a believer confesses sin is for renewal of fellowship, but the relationship is secure and eternal. Nothing else needs to be done. There is absolutely no more debt to pay. “It is finished!” (John 19:30).
Easter means that all our suffering is temporary! All of us know or have a loved one who’s suffering with a broken, decaying body. Easter reminds us there is hope, because every believer has a new and perfect body awaiting them (1 Corinthians 15:53). No more suffering, no more pain, no more sickness.
This past week I hit a wall. Being sick for so long began wearing on me. I cried out to my Heavenly Father and began to sob because I was so weary of this sickness. Yet, my time of sickness has been so limited compared to someone who’s been disabled or born with a handicap, or dealing with cancer or some other dreaded disease. And it’s all temporary! It will all ultimately end and there is a new and glorious body awaiting every believer which we will have for all eternity!
It also means mental anguish is temporary. Many struggle with depression, anxiety, bi-polar disorder or some other mental/emotional malady. They grow so weary of the struggle, longing for relief, even death. Easter means even that any and all suffering is temporary. Easter is God’s dynamite ultimately blowing all our suffering away. It means we have pure joy everlasting awaiting us!
Easter means that our worst situations are all fleeting! God has blessed me with a wonderful marriage and family. I have the greatest job in that I have the privilege of sharing the Word each week. On top of that, God has blessed me with the privilege of being your Pastor. Yet, this joy was not always my situation. As a teen, I felt my circumstances with an addicted, volatile father and as a motherless child were eternal – they weren’t. And neither is your situation. I know some are in miserable marriages. Some carry the heartache of a wayward child or a fragmented family. Some struggle in horrendous work situations. Yet, because of family obligations or because they’re nearing retirement, they’re trapped. Yet, it’s all temporary. Someday there will be no strained or contaminated relationships. Easter is the power that shouts into our soul – “The worst of this world is transient!”
Easter means that our sin and the curse of death are conquered! Please read 1 Corinthians 15. At the end Paul seems to shout, ““O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting? The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (vss. 55-57).
Not only is the penalty of sin totally paid, the power of sin has been eradicated and ultimately, the very presence of sin will be removed. It means as I stood recently by the casket of my adopted Mom and so many other loved one through the years who have died in Jesus, it is never “Good-bye.” It is instead only “Good night! I’ll see you in the morning, that great Resurrection morning!”
Easter is power! Power beyond anything in this broken world. Christian friend, let the Spirit unleash its power in your life (Philippians 3:10-11). Live in Easter’s power! And please share this power and the message of Easter, the only message of true hope with a dying hopeless world!
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