It is the day before Easter. Almost 2,000 years ago, this was the darkest day in all of history. The Son of God had died the day before, been buried in a borrowed tomb and, along with his body, they buried the hopes and dreams of the future.
Can you imagine the questions in the hearts and minds of Peter, James, John, Mary Magdalene, Mary, Martha and all the others who had followed and loved the Lord? Beginning Thursday evening, when he was arrested, it must have seemed like a nightmare. And finally, on Friday afternoon, the one they called “Master” or “Teacher” died. They hoped that he would come down from the cross. They had seen him perform miracles before. But on that first Good Friday, no miracles were done. He died the cruelest death, and was placed in the tomb. Hope had died.
Throughout that Saturday, hope lay in the grave. Keep in mind that for the followers of Jesus, Saturday (or Sabbath) was the day of worship. But on this day, there was no cause for worship ? there was only despair and depression. Their Lord was gone. Some may have feared for their own lives, but the greatest concern was simply this: Jesus was dead.
That is what makes Easter Sunday so amazing. There have been skeptics who have accused the followers of Jesus of stealing his body and making up the stories of the resurrection. But that was not the case. This was a defeated group of people. They had no hope or reason to pretend. Their lives had been shattered.
And then everything changed on Sunday morning. Some of the women were the first witnesses to the empty tomb. Jesus met and spoke to them. And they ran to tell the disciples. Peter and John raced to the tomb to see for themselves and found it empty. Before the day was over, the Lord had appeared to them, giving them hope for the present and the future.
Lives were changed because of the resurrection. That still is the case today. We need to remember this. If Jesus was not raised from the dead, then the Christian faith is merely a hoax — and a cruel one at that. Paul said to the Christians in Corinth, “If Christ is not raised from the dead, you are still dead in your trespasses and sin.” He also said, “If in this life only we have hope, we are most miserable of all men.”
The verdict is simple: Our hope rests in the reality of the resurrection. I am so glad that I can confidently proclaim, “Jesus is alive.” And because he is alive, we can live forever.
Thanks be to God for this indescribable gift.