Today is Good Friday. Sunday is Easter. Is there a more important weekend in all of Christianity? The death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus is the foundation of our faith, our hope, our joy, indeed our entire existence. And it’s this weekend that we remember and celebrate that reality.
This weekend is especially poignant for me in the aftermath of my husband’s death just a few weeks ago. It brings death and life and eternity into a new kind of focus. What do I do with my grief at Easter? What does Easter have to say to me in the midst of pain, loss, and even confusion?
Perhaps you’re facing something just as difficult. Perhaps you’re facing trouble right now in your marriage, your finances, your health, your job, or your family. Perhaps this Easter, like me, you’re reeling after the death of someone you love. How can you and I feel joy in the middle of all that? What does Easter have to say to you in the middle of your troubles?
When we think of Easter we think of the stone being rolled away and Jesus coming out of tomb with an earthquake, a blinding light, and a glorified body. And well we should. He is alive! The tomb is empty!
But Easter is meaningful, and Jesus’ resurrection glorious, precisely because of how horrible death is. Death is an enemy. Paul called death “the last enemy that will be destroyed.” (1 Corinthians 15:26) Death is the ultimate weapon Satan has used to wreak havoc among human beings ever since sin entered this world. We face suffering in this life, and in those cases death may sometimes seem like a temporary partial relief for some. But then there is the eternal suffering, the ultimate death that is forever.
Jesus never shied away from the topic of death. I imagine Him coming into Bethany four days after His friends Mary and Martha had watched their brother Lazarus die. Martha hurried out to meet Him. “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died!” (John 11:21) A little later Mary comes and says the same thing: “If you had been here, my brother would not have died!” (John 11:32)
The same cry comes from my heart; “Lord, if you had been in that hospital room, my husband would not have died!”
Jesus then makes a declaration we pass over too quickly. “Jesus said to her, “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. Do you believe this?”” (John 11:25-26)
Live, even though he dies? Never die? Apparently Jesus expected Mary and Martha to believe this. And He expects us to believe it too.
That is only true because Life is not some object or quality Jesus gives us. Instead Jesus is, Himself, the Resurrection and the Life. He demonstrated that on Easter morning.
Our human minds wrestle with what that means. Theologians discuss the particulars of the state of man in death, where they are now, and what will happen at the end of time at the resurrection. And just as with all our Why questions, we may never have intellectually satisfying answers this side of heaven.
But we can be assured that just as Jesus becomes the Answer to our questions, so He becomes our Resurrection and our Life. We don’t have to intellectually understand it all. Instead, we simply choose to believe. We can know and believe that Jesus is Life – life to our whole being here and now, life to our innermost spirit, and eternal death-free life forever and ever.
For me this Easter, I know my husband Al is safe in the arms of Jesus. I know that this temporary death – painful as it is for those of us who are still here – is not the end of story. If we really do believe what Jesus said, death is only the way it looks to us here. Yes, Jesus said “the one who believes in Me will never die.”
Easter means that the end of the story is LIFE – forever. Because JESUS IS LIFE – now, and eternally. For Al, for me, and for you.
So with Martha, I can say, “Yes, Lord, I believe.” (John 11:27)
[reminder]Whatever your problem, what does Easter mean to you this year?[/reminder]
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