This Easter meditation was composed by David Mikesell, Elder at Staunton Grace, and presented at the Easter Sunrise Service on 1 April 2018.
Today is Resurrection Sunday, the day that we celebrate the victory of Jesus Christ over death. The most important event in the history of this world is what we celebrate this morning. But for me, I’ve found that I tend to focus on Good Friday instead of Easter Sunday. After all, when we see a church, there is a cross. When we think of a symbol of Christianity, it is a cross. The cross is what we look at, what we think of. Not so much the empty tomb.
The cross was the means by which God paid the penalty for our sins. A penalty that we could not pay ourselves, but a penalty that had to be paid to restore us to fellowship with God. And for that we rightly must be thankful and grateful for what God did through the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. But the resurrection is not just the exclamation point after the cross. Billy Graham said that the resurrection is the guarantee that the work on the cross was acceptable to God in your place. For believers, the resurrection means hope, power and life everlasting.
In the scriptures, Jesus identifies Himself as the resurrection. Just as He describes Himself as the bread of life and the water of life, He declares Himself as the resurrection, when he tells Martha after her brother Lazarus has died, “I am the resurrection and the life”. He not only meets our deepest spiritual hunger and thirst, but He declares Himself as the one who will fulfill the promise of victory over death. And what greater reason for hope is there for us, that we will have eternal life with Christ?
Elsewhere in the New Testament, the resurrection is what the apostles preached. In Acts 4, it says, “The priests and the captain of the temple guard and the Sadducees came up to Peter and John while they were speaking to the people. They were greatly disturbed because the apostles were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection of the dead.” Further on in the same chapter, it says, “With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and much grace was upon them all.” And in Acts 17, we read that, “Paul was preaching the good news about Jesus and the resurrection.”
Why were they preaching the resurrection, and why not the cross? Because what people need to hear is a message of hope. Scripture again gives us that message of hope, over and over again.
“And God raised the Lord and will also raise us up by his power.” 1 Cor. 6:14
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you.” 1 Pet. 1:3,4
“For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.” John 6:40
“If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.” Rom. 8:11
“Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised— who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.” Romans 8:34
“He will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord God will wipe away tears from off all faces.” Isaiah 25:8
We have hope in this life because the risen Jesus is interceding for us on our behalf. We have hope because same the power that raised him from the grave, the Holy Spirit, lives in us. And we have hope because, through the resurrection, death has been defeated.
I’d like to close with a story. This past Friday night, we had our two youngest grandsons stay with us. With my wife’s suggestion, we watched the movie, “Heaven is For Real” (a much better idea than my first thought for a movie, “Patton”), and afterwards we had some really good discussions about heaven, hell, and faith in Jesus. Before they went to bed, the older one, who is 11, prayed that everyone on earth would come to know Jesus, because he recognized the hope that comes with faith in Christ. So I asked him, “Do you know God’s plan for getting everyone to know about Jesus?” He thought for a bit, but then said he didn’t know. I told him, “God’s plan is for us to tell others about Jesus.”
The world is full of people who need hope. The message of Easter, the message of Jesus, is a message of hope, power, and life. Let’s take that message of Easter and not just save it for one day out of the year.