Easter break—the perfect opportunity to go home for the weekend & eat a delicious Easter meal with your family; a glorious long weekend designed for one last hoorah of the school year with your closest friends; a chance to catch up on all your reading, papers, & projects before the onslaught of finals.
Whatever Easter break specifically means to you, it also, quite appropriately, happens to be the weekend of Easter Sunday. This particular Sunday is oftentimes called by another name: Resurrection Sunday. While perhaps the term "Easter" brings thoughts of bunnies & decorated eggs, when I think about "resurrection" nothing but the cross comes to mind—the cross of Jesus Christ, his horrific death upon it for the sake of the world, & the way in which he conquered death once & for all.
On Resurrection Sunday obviously, Christ's resurrection is prominent & celebrated joyfully. It is a day of remembering the cost of salvation and rejoicing that God the Father would pay the price of his Son for such a broken world. But what about the other days of the year? What does it look like to focus upon the resurrection of our Savior on a Monday in March or a busy summer Saturday? If Christ's resurrection gives us victory over death, what does it look to live in that resurrection power daily?
To begin, let's take a look at the Scripture. The four Gospels each tell a specific account of Jesus's resurrection because each author had a certain perspective & audience in mind. Matthew & Mark tell very similar stories, while Luke & John diverge a bit more, highlighting different aspects & including other details of that incredible day. If you have time (& it won't take much), go ahead & read Mark 16 & John 20 to examine their accounts of the resurrection, but right here let's just look at the books of Matthew & Luke.
Matthew 28:1-2, 5-8
Now after the Sabbath, toward the dawn of the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. And behold, there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone and sat on it... the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead, and behold, he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him. See, I have told you.” So they departed quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples.
But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared. And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men stood by them in dazzling apparel. And as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise.” And they remembered his words, and returning from the tomb they told all these things to the eleven and to all the rest.
There is a lot to be learned from the interaction between the angel(s) & those in search of Jesus. First, just imagine for a moment that you're on your way to visit the tomb of a beloved friend. You're within sight of the grave & all of a sudden the earth begins to shake. Two shining strangers appear & roll away the massive stone blocking off the entrance to the tomb & sit upon it. I'm sure you'd be almost certainly taken aback, to say the least, but I know I'd personally be somewhere between utter hysteria & debilitating confusion.
Yet the first words out of the angels' mouths are "Do not be afraid..."
These are the same exact words that the angel spoke to Mary when he visited her to tell her that God had chosen her to bear his son Jesus. Jesus himself spoke these words as well to his disciples when he walked out on the water to them on that windy night. These are also the same words that are repeated time & time again in the prophecies of Isaiah. I think sometimes we need reminding just as Mary Magdalene & the other Mary were reminded not to be afraid. When we remember the resurrection, we can be reminded that by the same power that raised Christ from the dead we can be free from fear. So then, living daily in the resurrection power of Christ means purposefully casting off fear & the entanglements it causes.
The angels didn't just tell the tomb-visitors not to be afraid though. They reminded the women of the promises of Jesus. The angels gently led Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to remember how Jesus said that he would rise from the dead. Jesus had told his disciples that he would be betrayed, crucified, & resurrected, yet even though the first two came to pass, no one was expecting the third. The word of the Lord is truth & we have Scripture full of promises from a God who keeps his word. Walking in accordance with Christ's resurrection means remembering God's promises.
We can take one more idea from the Gospels' accounts of Jesus's resurrection. The angels questioned the two Mary's as to why they were searching for Jesus in his tomb. The women had come with spices to treat the body & to care for Jesus as a dead person, but he was risen & gone from the grave. They were looking in the wrong place for their Savior. In many ways, I think a lot of people relate to this; I know I do. I truly want to serve Jesus, but there have been times that my idea of him didn't align with who he says he is & what he says he can do. I put constraints on the power of Christ & was surprised when he couldn't be found within them. However, when we walk with confidence in the power that raised Jesus from the dead, we come to know God more fully. So then, don't seek the living among the dead.
This Easter break, I pray you remember the call to walk in the resurrection power of Christ in you. No matter what all you get up to this weekend, just take a moment & remind yourself not to fear anything in this world. Don't be afraid of the future, of commitment, of loss because perfect love, the love of God for his people, casts out fear (1 John 4:18). Take another moment to dwell on the promises God has made to you in his Word & then take just one more moment to consider where you look to find Jesus for he is risen. He is risen indeed.
Happy, happy Easter!