Pastor Galen, April 21st 2019
Isaiah 65:17-25; Luke 24:1-12
Have you ever felt like your world was falling apart? Like all of your hopes and dreams were crashing down around you? Like everything you had worked for, hoped for and longed for was suddenly gone forever?
Perhaps it was the sudden passing of a loved one, the loss of your home, or a serious car accident. You were devastated, and you wondered how you could go on.
You knew that life had to continue on, so you went through the motions of life, but it felt like you were walking in a fog or a daze.
The first Easter
I believe this is how it felt for the women who came to the tomb early that first Easter Sunday morning. On Friday Jesus had been unjustly tried and crucified, hung on a cross for all to see, publicly shamed and humiliated. Jesus, who always had a kind word for everyone. Jesus, who welcomed the children, the outcasts, the marginalized. Jesus, who healed the deaf, the lame, and the blind. Jesus, who always took the time to listen, who sought out those who were lonely. Jesus, the one who had personally transformed each of their lives. Jesus, the one they had built all of their hopes and dreams around. Their Jesus, the one they loved, was gone.
What would they do? How could they go one? Would life ever be the same again? How could they possibly live without Jesus?
It’s a good thing that they weren’t allowed to do any work on Saturday because they wouldn’t have been able to get any work done anyway. Saturday was a day set aside for prayer and worship and rest, but I’m sure their heart wasn’t in it that day. They probably went through the motions, prayed the prayers and read the Scriptures they were supposed to read, but their minds were mulling over all that had happened that week. They were wondering, where had everything gone wrong? Why did all of this happen?
They didn’t know what to do, so the women decided to do the only thing they knew they could do — honor and memorialize his body in the way that was customary. And so early that Sunday morning they walked mournfully down to the tomb where his body had been laid, taking the spices they had prepared to anoint his dead body.
Imagine their confusion when they saw that the stone which covered his grave had been rolled away. They went inside the tomb but his body wasn’t there. All sorts of thoughts must have been going through their minds. Why would someone do this? Why would someone take Jesus’s body? Why add insult to injury?
It never occurred to them that Jesus may have risen. They knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that Jesus had been crucified. They had seen it happen with their own eyes. They had even watched as Jesus’s body was taken down from the cross and sealed in the tomb. There was no doubt in their minds that Jesus had died. What they didn’t know was that he had risen, Jesus was alive!
It’s no surprise that the women didn’t immediately jump to the conclusion that Jesus had come back to life, even though Jesus had told that them that he would rise again. Normally, in this life as we know it, death is the end. It’s final. When someone dies, we know that we won’t see the again in this life.
A Different Kind of Resurrection
But what the women didn’t realize was that through Jesus, God was doing something brand new, completely different, something that had never been done before.
Now, it was rare, but there were other people in the past who had died and come back to life. But those resurrections were not the same as Christ’s resurrection. The prophets Elisha and Elisha, those famous prophets of old, had raised people from the dead (2 Kings 4:18-37 and 2 Kings 13:20-21). Jesus himself had raised people back to life (Lazarus John 11:1-44, Jairus’s daughter Luke 8:49-56 and the widow of Nain’s son Luke 7:11-17). The women had probably even seen it happen.
But their resurrections were not the same as what happened on Easter morning. Why? Because each of those people eventually died again. Their resurrections were temporary, they were resurrected back to this life only, but they didn’t stay alive forever.
Christ’s resurrection, however, was a resurrection to eternal life. When Jesus rose from the grave he received a body that will never pass away. Christ rose from the grave and ascended into heaven 2,000 years ago, and he is still alive today, interceding for us in heaven, and one day we will get to meet Jesus face to face.
Not only that, but the Apostle Paul tells us that Jesus was “the first fruits of those who have died” (2 Corinthians 15:20). In other words, everyone who puts their faith and hope and trust in Jesus for the forgiveness of their sins will one day be raised to eternal life just like Christ. This is why Easter is such Good News. This is why we celebrate Christ’s resurrection.
The Start of Something New
Jesus’s resurrection is the beginning of God’s new creation — it’s a foretaste of what is to come when God creates a new heaven and a new earth, as Isaiah prophesied. In that day there will be no more weeping, no more cries of distress. No more injustice, no more oppression. Wars will cease. Racism will come to an end. Sickness and poverty will be unheard of. Isaiah says that even “the wolf and the lamb will feed together…they shall not hurt or destroy on all my holy mountain says the LORD” (Isaiah 65:25).
This is what God was doing through Jesus Christ, and it’s what God wants to do in each of us. Jesus’s death and resurrection was just the beginning, the start of something new.
Through Jesus’s death and resurrection, God was working to renew and restore all of humanity. Through Jesus, God’s kingdom was breaking into this world, bringing new life, God’s new creation. Through Jesus we can all be raised to new life.
This is Good News! This is why we celebrate Easter. This is why we proclaim that Christ has died, Christ has risen, Christ will come again!
The Same Power That Raised Jesus from the Dead Lives In Us
And so this morning, whatever it is that you’re going through, whatever you may be facing, know that there is hope. There is hope even beyond the grave.
Even when it seems like your world is falling apart, or that all of your hopes and dreams are crashing down around you, know that God is in the process of making all things new.
As the songwriter said,
I can see
Waters raging at my feet
I can feel
The breath of those surrounding me
I can hear
The sound of nations rising up
We will not be overtaken
We will not be overcome
I can walk
Down this dark and painful road
I can face
Every fear of the unknown
I can hear
All God’s children singing out
We will not be overtaken
We will not be overcome
The same power that rose Jesus from the grave
The same power that commands the dead to wake
The same power that moves mountains when He speaks
The same power that can calm a raging sea
Lives in us, lives in us
He lives in us, lives in us.
Christ’s resurrection is just a foretaste of what is to come. God is in the process of making all things new. No matter what may come your way, hold on and to be strong, knowing that the same power that rose Jesus from the grave lives inside each one of us!