Easter Sunday: He Lives and So Should We

Easter Sunday: He Lives and So Should We

Read: Luke 24:1-53

“Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen.”
Luke 24:5b-6a, ESV


How does one emerge from horrific grief and loss to embrace victorious new life? This transformation may be summed up in one word, “Resurrection.” Friends, this core Biblical truth is recorded throughout the scriptures but too many today find it impossible to believe. These dear souls find it too difficult to believe in life beyond death, nor do they see how believing may strengthen them in the present. They are facing unspeakable loss, and they have nothing to help them transcend the emptiness that this life brings. Let’s invite Luke’s gospel to help us to build a bridge from our loss to the victory over suffering and death that is ours in Christ Jesus.

Easter is the Bridge from Death to Life

There appears to be a brief period following Jesus’ gruesome crucifixion, death, and burial where his disciples could not wrap their minds around the late-breaking news that the tomb was empty and that he had risen. They were skeptical (24:11)! The word Luke uses to describe their disbelief is used only here in the New Testament, but it was a common word in medicine. It meant “the wild talk of those in delirium or hysteria.” I suppose the sheer enormity of evil and unjust suffering they had beheld had eclipsed their core belief in God’s power for good and right. There are many in our world today who live with a similar dark grief and loss of hope, whether they encounter the daily horrors of oppressive rule in Syria, murderous hatred in northern Nigeria, brute political hostility in Myanmar, or senseless random killing here in America in places of business and churches.

So, Jesus stood physically before the disciples, questioned their skepticism, and their own tombs of doubt crumbled (Luke 24:38). Luke recorded the historical fact that Jesus stood physically before his weakened followers to communicate the strong message that God wants his children of every age to “know”—he overcomes death and the grave and guarantees victory for us (Luke 24:26; See John 20:29, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed”). Someone once said, “It is not as a child that I believe and confess Jesus Christ. My hosanna is born of a furnace of doubt.” Indeed! So, what new life bursts forth from the grave of suffering and death?

A great reversal takes place in this moment. In the Old Testament, a Divine appearance (theophany) engendered fear and was followed by the calming word of “peace.” A commission would follow. Here, in this context, the disciples were already afraid! They needed to hear the Lord say, “Shalom!” (NAC). The resurrected Savior has arrived not to bring judgment, which often was a part of a divine appearance, but to announce God’s salvation.

We will never know whether the disciples began to think that a messianic revolt might once again be in the works, because Jesus’ first words are instead about “peace.” He, himself, had just won the decisive battle with evil and suffering, and he declares that the door leading to the fullness of God’s blessing is now thrown open wide (cf. Acts 10:36). These followers of his will soon know this fullness in superabundance and will be commissioned to advance with this message of peace to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8; Acts 2:1-3).

Sadly, we all too often give the world a mixed message about Christ’s resurrection with our messages of judgment. There is no time for war-making when all of our time is spent peace-spreading (cf. Matthew 5:9). The disciples would spend the balance of their earthly lives sharing the word about the dawning of the Messianic kingdom. How about his 21st-century disciples? Have the events in our lives and world squelched our joy and hope?

Steps Beyond the Empty Tomb

We enjoyed a wonderful time of Palm Sunday worship at The Mount Church followed by a meal with our daughter and her family. One of the children became saddened at the lunch table because, as I will state it, “There is no sweet before you eat your meat!” The frustration and sorrow was written across his handsome face. I caught his eye and asked, “Is this a good time for a life lesson?” He whispered politely, “No.” I laughed, but we all know that life is no laughing matter. He never asked me to share it with him, so I will share it with you today!

Childlike faith must soon be lived in a grown-up world. Life often takes more away from us than our dessert. Jesus’ disciples faced that truth and so must we. Bad things happen to good people, and there are times in our own pain and loss that we cannot wrap our minds around and receive “resurrection news.” We think, “I must be delirious to believe that God will rescue me from this circumstance.” Hmm. We often say, “Seeing is believing” but on this day, “Sunday is believing!”

Here is our opportunity for growth. Perhaps your life has become engulfed by the darkness of this contemporary world. You may regularly enter church bruised and battered by the events of the previous week, and then leave without even a faint glimmer of hope. Bring your losses to the empty tomb, so to speak.

The resurrection must change all of this doubt and defeat. First, this day is forever marked as a day for worship and remembrance. Each Sunday should be lived in light of the resurrection. Secondly, the resurrection foreshadows the coming day of the Lord, one that the prophets had predicted (cf. Isaiah 2:11-19; 11:11; 12:1, 6; Jeremiah 31:6, 27-34; Ezekiel 34:11-12; Joel 2:1-2, 11, 31; Amos 5:18-20; NAC; Borchert, John 12-21). Evil, suffering and death will be judged and removed forevermore. Christians are to live in this sure hope. Friends, Jesus is alive, so we must live like it.

Action Plans

1. Write down the life circumstances that have entombed your hope. Then, in light of the resurrection of Christ, ask the Lord to roll away that stone so that his light of truth and hope may flood your entire being. He is risen!

2. For families: This is the morning to arise early, remove the black mourning crepe from the crosses in our yards and drape it with gold or white, symbolizing resurrection! It is a day to attend a sunrise service to worship the Risen Lord. It is a day to greet family members, friends, and perfect strangers with, “He is Risen!” and to hear the New Testament Church's response, “Christ is Risen, indeed!” It is a day to free our souls to race with the wind to the empty tomb and to shout praises in our hearts, “Thank you God! He is Risen!” Celebrate this day with church family, close friends and your extended families. Gather everyone together and rejoice! For our Lord was dead. But now, he is alive!

May all your paths be straight,
Larry C. Ashlock