For many the idea of celebrating someone’s death is a difficult concept to grasp, especially when we have had a close relationship with that person. With death comes an end. An end of a period of time, an end to a beautiful, earthly relationship, and the end of life itself. We cry at the loss, we mourn at the thought of not seeing that person again, and the sadness lingers for what seems like an eternity. But, death does not have to be the final goodbye. It does not have to be the end of the final chapter. It could be just a time to say, “I’ll see you in a little while.”
On Friday, April 15th we remember the night that Jesus Christ was arrested, wrongfully tried and convicted, brutally beaten, and nailed to the cross and left to die. The narrative is difficult to read without shedding tears. I could not imagine what it would have been like to actually witness what he had to go through. Hollywood has attempted for years to put on film what that night must have been like for Jesus, but even then, I have to wonder if it wasn’t even worse. The Passion of the Christ was probably the closest, but even then, was it even more brutal than Hollywood can depict? And yet, we celebrate the death of Jesus. We, Christians, look upon the cross not as something to be despised, but as something that was necessary. I mean, we do call the day, “Good Friday.”
But the death of Jesus was not the end of the story, and because of what happened on Sunday, it does not have to be the end of our story either.
Jesus’ end on this earth was the beginning of life for all of us. It opened the door between mankind and God the Father. What once was an ugly, blood-soaked cross is now a beautiful bridge between us and God. When we accept Jesus’ invitation to follow Him, to be His disciples, to die to our sins in the watery grave of baptism, and arise in a newness of life we become heirs to the very kingdom in which He, the only begotten Son of God, came from.
Romans 8:17 - Now if we are children, then we are heirs--heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.
Galatians 3:29 - If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.
Titus 3:7 - so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.
Because of what Jesus endured on the night of his betrayal and the day of His death, we share in His inheritance when we become children of God.
Galatians 3:26 - So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith.
So, the story of the cross, of the death of Jesus, is not the end. We know that on the first day of the week, Sunday, the stone was rolled away from the tomb and the body of Jesus was nowhere to be found. HE IS ALIVE, and because of His resurrection from the dead, we too, can share in that resurrection one day as we live for Him, serve Him, and share His marvelous story. In the same way we shall rise from our earthly graves to walk in the glories of heaven.
Romans 6:5 - For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his.
This past Sunday, nearly 2000 years ago, was a time of great joy as Jesus entered Jerusalem, but that joy quickly turned to great sorrow as Jesus was beaten and crucified, but in three days it became a day of great hope. Life as we know it on this earth will stop one day, but life with Christ will live for all eternity. There will be no end to the story if we accept Him, His grace, mercy and the assurance of what will be for all eternity.
1 Corinthian 15 - 50 I declare to you, brothers and sisters, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. 51 Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— 52 in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. 53 For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. 54 When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”
55 “Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?”
56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
When you gather together with family and friends this Easter Sunday, remember, what may have seemed like a sad Friday, was in fact “good,” as it was the forerunner to what became a “GREAT” Sunday!