Many of the most beautiful worship songs sung all around the world, Sunday after Sunday, proclaim the miraculous truth of the believer --Jesus Christ died and three days later, rose again. Tears stream down faces and drum beats crescendo behind passionate cries of, “He’s alive” and “He is risen!” Declarations of victory and shouts that the Lord has conquered death and grave fill sermons. And rightfully so! The resurrection of Jesus Christ truly is the utmost cause for celebration, on Resurrection Sunday and every other day of the year.
But as you sing the songs and hear the words, have you taken the time, lately, to appreciate what they truly mean? Have you taken inventory of your heart to ensure that they aren’t just melodies or bullet points in a sermon, but true expressions of gratitude? Before the festivities divert our attention, let’s take a moment to pause and reflect on these words and why their significance makes Easter the foundation for them all.
Before the birth of Jesus, there was a world of people separated from God in need of a savior. Out of an abundance of love, Jesus was sent to the earth to be the example of how we should live. He came to restore the relationship with God by being his very presence here on earth. During this time, Jesus lived as a man-- faultless and blameless, but still a man. So, like any man who’d been tortured and beaten, he died a natural death. But because of the supernatural nature of Jesus as the Son of God, his death wasn’t final.
Prior to his crucifixion, Jesus had predicted his death several times, but also knew the rest of the story. When those who mourned his loss returned to his grave and found it empty, they struggled to believe. They had seen his brutal death; how could anyone survive that? But they were reminded of Jesus’ own words, “The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.” (Luke 24:6 NIV)
And to the unbelieving disciples, “Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself!” (Luke 24:39 NIV) Over and over, he was consistent in his promise and it came to pass. As to them, the same is true for us.
Part of Jesus’ mission on earth included his crucifixion. There could be no resurrection if there was no death first. Such a sacrifice was meant to bear the burden of all the sin, shame, evil, and shortcomings of the natural world, and bury them. Jesus, knowing that on our own we would fall, took the debt we would owe for our transgressions and paid at the cross. His blood, our currency.
As the hour approached, Jesus cried out to God because he knew what was coming to him. He knew his purpose and the ultimate good that would result from his obedience but also knew of the difficulty and suffering he would have to endure. Ever been there? Those aren’t easy decisions for us to make, with the weight of the world on our shoulders. We simply aren’t strong enough. But Jesus took that weight, and all of the weight we might ever carry, so that a life with him means we don’t have to.
So what does it all mean? How does this all translate to us in our own lives? Well, that depends on whether or not we choose to believe. Jesus made the benefits of his death and resurrection available to all. He promised, “I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life.” (John 5:24 NIV)
That means lives plagued by darkness, depression, anxiety, and fear can be restored. He can take situations that seem dead and hopeless and breathe life into them. Lost souls and wandering minds searching for something real to hold onto, can find security. The grip of emotional turmoil, bad habits, and deep wounds that keep us trapped and suffocated can be released.
Saved, set free, no longer lost--whatever the claim, we all have access, for our time on earth as well as in eternity. Our salvation doesn’t mean that our physical bodies will rise again as Jesus’ did, but our spirits will.
If all of this isn’t a cause for celebration, we don’t know what is! Rejoice and recognize the miracle that we serve a God who is still alive and working on our behalf everyday. Rejoice and be thankful for the promise that a relationship with him is available to all who believe. Rejoice and rest in the truth that our imperfections and shortcomings are not disqualifiers.
From this Easter Sunday to all the days to come, may we remain focused on the resurrected life of Jesus Christ. If not, meaningful affirmations just become catchy phrases and spirited songs just become emotional notes that fall flat. Because at some point, the conversations end, the music fades, and the only thing left is the posture of our own hearts.
Now go, enjoy the sweets, treats, and time with loved ones. Celebrate with renewed joy and gratitude for a life with Christ, and invite them to do the same. Love on them with the love he has given to you. Show them what it means to have a savior who is, indeed, very much alive!