Reason to Celebrate

This Sunday the calendar reminds us that it’s Easter, but with churches closed, large gatherings prohibited, and a vast majority of our population sequestered at home, celebrating seems somehow out of place. I mean, why bother, right? Especially when we’re inundated by real concerns about what’s going on in the world and dire predictions on so many news reports.

But maybe this year more than any other, we can relate to some of the feelings the disciples must have had as the events preceding Jesus’ resurrection unfolded. As His followers stood at a distance that somber afternoon, watching helplessly as Christ’s lifeless body was lowered from the cross, certainly they must have felt the cold fingers of despair squeeze all hope of joy completely out of their hearts. However, the next day they were supposed to gather together to commemorate Passover… the yearly observance instituted by God to remind His people of His faithfulness. Surely, these men struggled with the juxtaposition of the crucifixion and the command to celebrate when it must have seemed like everything they believed in had been rocked by a mock trial and hasty execution.

All of Christ’s followers must have felt as though they had a list of valid reasons to question God’s watch-care over them and even more reasons to just skip out on the celebrating that year.  But only two days later, an angel showed up at the garden tomb, bringing an announcement that changed everything… “He is not here; He has risen, just as He said.” (Matt 28:6)

This simple statement continues to resonate through time reminding us of a singular truth that gives assurance to the lives of struggling believers today. This is Christ’s promise. “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in Me will never die.” (Jn 11:25-26) This coming Sunday, we’re reminded that Jesus is alive! And because He lives, we can be boldly confident that God has not abandoned His children… no matter what’s going on around us.

With His resounding declaration of victory over death, Jesus altered the focus of the lives of all who follow Him. Our sense of purpose should no longer be rooted in the world or the false stability it claims to offer. We’re compelled by His grace to instead offer ourselves to the Father in whatever situation we find ourselves (including disease and death) so that through us, He may draw others to the new life He so lavishly offers. As we embrace our purpose on this earth (to be His instruments of reconciliation ~ 2 Cor 5:18), it ought to transform our perspective, assign to our lives a new emphasis, and even redefine our moments of suffering. In short, it gives both value and meaning to everything we do.

So, if you having a hard time thinking about celebrating, remember that our true reason for rejoicing isn’t linked to anything this world has to offer. While our current crises may endure far longer than any of us hope and affect us in ways we can’t yet see, it doesn’t have the final word in our lives. Christ’s triumph reaches us in the midst of our circumstances, and graciously extends to us abundant life, confident hope, and certain peace… for this life… and for all eternity.

 

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