Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb and they asked each other, “Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?” But when they looked up, they saw that the stone was rolled away. As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed. “Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here.” -Mark 16:2-7a
Growing up, I never understood exactly what we celebrated on Easter Sunday. We would get up early, hunt for our Easter baskets, eat pancakes before the church service, and then spend the rest of the day with family. I really liked church on Easter Sunday because it meant a new dress and an Easter bonnet, and because we got to sing one of my favorite songs (Halle, Halle, Halle… for all of you at Faith). But amidst all of this, I never grasped the enormity of Christ’s death and resurrection. (And I still don’t completely understand it.)
But I’ve come to understand the magnitude of this better in the past few years. Jesus did nothing wrong – he was sinless. God’s law required a blood sacrifice for sin and it could only come from a pure source. And Jesus willingly gave himself as that sacrifice for every person. But even though he died, he was more powerful than death and he rose! What victory!
This is what Easter is all about. I’m not sure what Easter traditions we’ll experience next year in Bolivia, but they probably won’t include pancake breakfasts and those songs we sang as kids. And that’s okay.
Christ the Lord is ris’n today, Alleluia!
Sons of men and angels say: Alleluia!
Raise your joys and triumphs high, Alleluia!
Sing, ye heav’ns and earth reply: Alleluia!
Lives again our glorious King, Alleluia!
Where, O death, is now thy sting? Alleluia!
Dying once He all doth save, Alleluia!
Where thy victory, O grave? Alleluia!
Love’s redeeming work is done, Alleluia!
Fought the fight, the battle won, Alleluia!
Death in vain forbids Him rise, Alleluia!
Christ has opened Paradise, Alleluia!
Ours the cross, the grave, the skies, Alleluia!
Soar we now where Christ has led, Alleluia!
Following our exalted Head, Alleluia!
Made like Him, like Him we rise, Alleluia!
Christ the Lord is Risen Today, by Charles Wesley from The Hymnal for Worship and Celebration
Then Jesus went through the towns and villages, teaching as he made his way to Jerusalem. Someone asked him, “Lord, are only a few people going to be saved?”
He said to them, “Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to. Once the owner of the house gets up and closes the door, you will stand outside knocking and pleading, ‘Sir, open the door for us.’
“But he will answer, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from.’
“Then you will say, ‘We ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets.’
“But he will reply, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from. Away from me, all you evildoers!’
“There will be weeping there, and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, but you yourselves thrown out. People will come from east and west and north and south, and will take their places at the feast in the kingdom of God. Indeed there are those who are last who will be first, and first who will be last.” — Luke 13:22-30
I’m sure there will be a lot of blog posts today about Thanksgiving and giving thanks for family and friends. As I read this passage from Luke this morning, I started thinking about giving thanks for God and His character. He is faithful, but also just. He will welcome those who are faithful to Him, but will punish those who are not. It’s up to us. Notice how Jesus was asked a yes or no question — will only a few people be saved? — but responded by urging those around him to do whatever they could to be saved. Jesus turns the question around and puts the focus on the people. He gives us that choice.
We need to be giving thanks for Christ, for the example He gave, and for the sacrifice He made. It’s only through Him that we can be saved. “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” — John 14:6
Give thanks with a grateful heart,
Give thanks to the Holy One,
Give thanks because He’s given
Jesus Christ His Son.
And now let the weak say “I am strong.”
Let the poor say “I am rich.”
Because of what the Lord has done for us