Wednesday, April 12, 2017

He is Risen!

It is Holy Week, and the entire church is looking forward to Easter Sunday and celebrating the resurrection of Jesus. We may be preparing to participate in Good Friday services, sunrise services, pancake breakfasts, Easter cantatas, ham dinners, and/or Easter egg hunts. Are these celebrations and remembrances that are a part of Holy Week merely history or traditions that we do once a year? Does Jesus’ resurrection have any effect on our daily lives? Should it? What effect did the news of His resurrection have for those first eyewitnesses who arrived to discover an empty tomb that first Resurrection morning?

Early on Sunday morning, as the new day was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went out to visit the tomb. Suddenly there was a great earthquake! For an angel of the Lord came down from heaven, rolled aside the stone, and sat on it. His face shone like lightning, and his clothing was white as snow. The guards shook with fear when they saw him, and they fell into a dead faint.

Then the angel spoke to the women. ‘Don’t be afraid!’ he said. ‘I know you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead, just as he said would happen. Come, see where his body was lying. And now, go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead, and he is going ahead of you to Galilee. You will see him there. Remember what I have told you.’ (Matt 28:1-7 NLT)

Can you imagine the tangled thoughts and emotions of these women? Try putting yourself in their place. It has only been a few days since you witnessed the cruel, violent death of the man that you had invested the past two or three years of your life to follow. Afterwards, you, along with several of His other disciples, hurried to get His body buried in a tomb before the Sabbath began. You all cried together through the Sabbath, utterly devastated by the knowledge that He was really gone, and sealed in a tomb. You tried to process what had happened and what your next steps should be. All you could come up with at the time was that He deserved better than a hurried burial before the Sabbath, so you made plans to revisit His grave. On Sunday morning, a couple of you trudged to the tomb, planning on doing a better job of preparing Jesus’ body for a proper burial.

Try to imagine the shock and joy that collided with the fear and confusion in the minds of these women when they saw the angel and heard the news that Jesus had risen from the dead! How would you have responded to such an astonishing change of events? 

These ladies immediately obeyed the angel’s instructions and they “rushed to give the disciples the angel’s message” (Matt 28:8 NLT). They were so overwhelmed by the good news that Jesus was alive that they could not wait to tell the others. They joyfully did what they were commissioned to do, and then “as they went, Jesus met them and greeted them. And they ran to him, grasped his feet, and worshiped him” (Matt 28:10 NLT).

The news of Jesus’ resurrection turned their lives upside down and moved them to action and to unashamed, extravagant worship. Does the good news of Jesus’ death and resurrection do the same for me or for you? Does it move you to action, to do something? Does it move you to unashamed worship of Jesus? The gospel is such amazing news that it should turn our lives upside down, move us to action, and move us to extravagant worship.

Be intentional during this special week, during this time when the entire body of Christ is intensely focused on the suffering, crucifixion, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. Allow these events to affect your life. To move you to action. To inspire you to extravagant, unashamed worship. To turn your life upside down for His Kingdom.

(This blogpost was adapted and excerpted from Part One of Follow Jesus, Share the Journey, available on Kindle.)