I would like to take a brief break this week from the Fruit of the Spirit to talk to you about my favorite story. Of all the stories ever told in the entire History of man, no other story has the power this one has. No other story regardless of how grand or well thought out has the widespread distribution this one has. Nor is there ever to be found a more compelling tale. This is no work of fiction. It is not a light tale either. The elements of it are at once both simple and complex. The level of raw emotion in this story is so high that many cannot contain their tears as they hear it. I for one have difficulty containing my own tears as I tell it. For some it is merely a story. For me it is the crux of human existence. Of course I am referring to the Story of Jesus. His birth. His life. His death. And, of course, His resurrection!
The story of Jesus is one of sorrow and joy. It is a story about life and death. It is a story about despair and hope. The best part is that it is the only story I know where there is no end. You see, there can be no end to a story about Jesus. As the old song says, “Yesterday, today, forever Jesus is the same.” Sinful men (just like you and I) crucified Jesus. They did it because they hated Him. Not because they had any reason to hate Him, mind you. Of all the men who have or ever will walk this earth no one was like Jesus. He was perfect. No sin. Nothing anyone could ever accuse Him of. And for that they hated Him. They falsely accused Him and then sentenced Him to die.
And die He did. But He did not stay dead. Three days after they crucified Him He rose from the dead. That is what we celebrate at Easter.
I have to warn you up front that I love Easter! It is the best day in the history of humanity and one that we as Christians commemorate yearly. I wholeheartedly support the commemoration of the resurrection. But I also feel as if we have forgotten that when we gather together on Sundays to worship God that we come to worship a risen Savior. So often I sit in church and wonder why we are so “ho-hum” about the best thing that has ever happened to us.
Christians gather and sing as if they were at a funeral. All serious and sad, glum faces all around. I hate to break it to you people but my Jesus is alive and He loves to break up funerals! He healed the sick, brought the dead back to life and there is no one who would enjoy an upbeat service more than my Jesus.
This is why I love Easter Sunday. For once we come to the house of the Living God and act as we should. We sing with gusto and joy. We smile and reflect on the fact that our God is not buried and dead, but alive and among us! Why do we forget that, when His friends were gathered to grieve over His death, Jesus walked in and told them to stop and be at peace? My friends, Easter is a great day. But it is a great day because the Jesus who rose from the dead over two thousand years ago is still alive today!
I urge you now my brethren to rejoice in the Risen Son of God, not just today but every day. And when you gather together to worship, remember that you are not at a funeral. Jesus’ tomb is as empty today as when Mary went to it many years ago. Rejoice! Shout praises to God! Raise your hands in worship! Sing to Him the new song He put in your heart! Whatever you do don’t you dare act like He is dead.
I would like to leave you with these words which remind us of the wonderful, joyous truth of our faith.
THE DAY OF RESURRECTION
John of Damascus, early 8th century
English translation by John M. Neale, 1818–1866
The day of resurrection! Earth, tell it out abroad—the Passover of gladness, the Passover of God! From death to life eternal, from this world to the sky, our Christ hath brought us over with hymns of victory!
Our hearts be pure from evil, that we may see aright the Lord in rays eternal of resurrection light; and, list’ning to His accents, may hear, so calm and plain, His own “All hail!” and, hearing, may raise the victor strain.
Now let the heav’ns be joyful, let earth her song begin, let the round world keep triumph and all that is therein; let all things seen and unseen their notes in gladness blend, for Christ the Lord hath risen, our joy that hath no end!