Monday, April 6, 2015

The Darkness Before Easter Dawn

In the hours before dawn, the women rose, gathered their spices and went to anoint Jesus’body. He was their friend, their teacher, and in one case, their son. The one person who knew their hearts completely and loved them still. The person who had given them hope that God had seen the misery of His people and was going to help them. The person who had healed sickness and cast out demons and even raised the dead. But now he was the one who was dead.

They had watched him take every agonizing step up Golgotha. They had seen the pain on his face and seen those long nails sticking out of his wrists. They had stared, unable to tear their eyes away but wishing they could. They had wept and wondered why God would allow this injustice and why the best man they had ever known would have to suffer so, and why they would have to lose him.

But by Sunday morning, their tears were spent. They must have found some way to numb the sorrow, to block it up in the bottoms of their hearts and roll a stone over the entrance. They busied themselves with preparing to anoint the body and with worrying about the stone at the entrance to the tomb, because the alternative was just too painful.

We, too, feel pain that is the same in kind if not in degree. We lose those we love. We watch friends get hurt. We see the injustice of the world and mourn for victims of senseless violence. We feel hope, only to have it crushed. Some of us wonder if there is anything left to live for.

But power is at work in the hour before Easter dawn. Even as the women trudge along the dark, stony path to the tomb, angels descend, and the stone is rolled away. Air fills the lungs collapsed by crucifixion, the hands pierced by nails move, His eyes open, and the soul of the man who spoke and laughed and cried and loved returns to His body. He is risen.

And those three words breathe life into souls that were nearly destroyed by sorrow. The injustice is righted, the loss is restored, the pain is healed. Hope is not only rekindled, but it blazes forth as brightly as the sun that now rises above the eastern horizon. He is alive, not only in our hearts but in reality. And because He lives, we also will live.

It’s now the day after Easter. The songs are sung, the decorations are coming down, and the chocolate is, or soon will be, consumed. It’s Monday, and people are going back into the drudgery of work. Life presses in with its various problems: sick children, quarrels with loved ones, disasters on the news, and pain hidden in our hearts.

But the Resurrection is not just a story. It is a historical event in which the raw, physical reality of death was reversed. Jesus had – and still has – a body just like yours but now transformed. He experienced all the struggles of your life and more. But He has overcome all that evil, and someday, He will return to destroy evil forever.

Friends, Christ is risen today and every other day. Remember that next time you feel the darkness pressing in on you. Jesus is alive.

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