Easter is later this year than usual. It is very rare for Easter to come on the last Sunday of April. We have to wait much longer than we usually do. But we wait with great anticipation. We know, as Paul Harvey used to say, “the rest of the story.”
I wonder what Peter, James, John, Mary, Martha and all of the other followers of Jesus were thinking on that Saturday before the first Easter Sunday. I think I have some idea.
Some of the disciples must have thought they had wasted the previous three years of their lives. They had lost three years of prime wage earning. They may have lost their jobs and positions in society. They had lost time with their families and friends. Some may have even thought they had lost it all.
For Mary, the mother of Jesus, there was certainly a great sense of loss. She had lost her first born son, the one promised her by the angel. She had lost the one who would protect and care for her. She had lost more than anyone can imagine.
But the first Easter morning changed all of that. The women went to the tomb early that morning to pay their respects to the one they had loved and followed. But they found the tomb empty, and they did not know what to think. They were concerned someone had stolen Jesus’ body. They reported their findings to the disciples.
We are told that Peter and John sprinted to the tomb as quickly as they could get there. What they discovered would change their lives forever. John immediately “believed,” we are told. For Peter and Thomas and others, that belief was made strong the moment they encountered the risen Savior.
We do celebrate the fact that Jesus is alive on Easter Sunday morning. But let us be clear on this issue. He is alive today. Certainly there is a spiritual aspect to that. But on the first Easter morning, Jesus was alive physically. He ate and socialized and taught his followers in the days that followed his resurrection. He was truly alive. That is the message of Easter.
Paul had some sharp words for those who claimed there was no physical resurrection from the dead. He said if Jesus was not raised from the dead, then “our faith is in vain, we are dead in our trespasses and sins.” The whole of the Christian faith rests on the truth of the resurrection of Jesus. If he is not alive, then our faith is pointless.
But he is alive! Tomorrow we will celebrate that great and marvelous truth. Jesus is alive.
And because he is alive, we can live forever. To him be the glory forever.