by Darell Johnson
I wish there was a way the whole world could know the wonder emerging from the Easter Story. What happened on the first Easter morning, when the woman went to the tomb, found it empty, and heard angelic messengers declare, “He is risen!”, affects everything in the human condition.
Let me name just a few ways, and only briefly at that. Death has met its match. The great enemy of humanity has been defeated. Jesus of Nazareth walked right into the face of death, let death throw at Him all it had, and death lost! Jesus robbed the grave of its finality. Shout it from the mountain-tops – death is defeated!
Death, therefore, does not have the last word any more. Death only gets the second-to-the-last word. In relationship with the risen Jesus, the last word is life, eternal life; life does not end. Yes, we will still pass through the grave. But that will not be the end. It will be the beginning of life without end. Oh, my soul, sing for joy!
We, therefore, no longer need to fear death. All fear is rooted in the fear of death. That fear holds humanity captive, often keeping us from doing what we know to be the right thing to do, and often causing us to do what we know to be the wrong thing to do. We fear the consequences; we fear death. But Easter guts that fear. Oh, death still tries to intimidate us. But it is lying to us. To die in relationship with the risen Jesus is to enter the life for which He died on the cross. Say it often, “Death, you will no longer make me live in fear!”
Because of Easter, we now know that everything Jesus said His death would accomplish, has been accomplished. “It is finished,” He announced as He died. Everything that needed to happen for sinful human beings to be in relationship with the Holy God! Everything! Wrapped up in all the fancy words the rest of the New Testament, and Christian Theology, uses. Forgiveness of sin- done! Reconciliation with God – done! Rescue from the power of sin – done! Saved from judgment – done! On it goes. Adoption as sons and daughters of the Father – done! Entrance into the inner life of God as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; a great and glorious mystery – yes! There is nothing more we sinful humans need to do for our salvation (which all the fancy words are describing). Jesus has done it all. Oh, what a Saviour!
Because of all we have already celebrated, Easter means we can trust Jesus to fulfill everything else He said He would do. He had promised the first disciples that He would “be raised on the third day.” And He was. Giving us confidence that all His other great promises will also happen. He said He would be with us until the end of the age – and He will! He said He would breathe His Spirit into our inner most beings – and He has and will! He said He would reign over the world as King of Kings and Lord of Lords – and He has, and does, and will! He said He would come back, and bring with Him a whole new creation, finally rid of pain and sorrow and dying – and He will! He will! He will!
And Easter means we have a new best friend. Because He is alive, never to die again, He can be known. Intimately. He wants to be in relationship with us, to share in all that. He wants us to be alive as He is alive.
So, on this Easter, welcome His friendship. For the first time, or for the 91st time.
Darrell Johnson is a retired Pastor and Professor, writing, teaching for Regent College, befriending young pastors, and keeping up with eleven grandchildren.