Easter Sunday: after darkness… light!

Following on from Good Friday’s thoughts about the beautiful collision between humanity’s depravity and Christ’s divinity at Calvary, I got to thinking about what it must have been like for the disciples during the Easter weekend. Talk about a roller coaster of emotions and experiences both leading up to that time and throughout Easter! They’d heard the prophesies about the Messiah, but they didn’t want to accept the fact that He had to die. They’d heard John the Baptist telling people to repent because the kingdom of heaven was at hand before Jesus started His earthly ministry (Matthew 3:1 – 6) and yet they were confused as they had been expecting an earthly political kingdom to release them from Roman rule rather than a spiritual Kingdom set up by a suffering servant. They were finally understanding who Jesus really was and then His life and ministry turned towards the cross. Within the space of a few days they experienced the last supper, prayer in the garden, betrayal by one of their close friends, the brutal floggings and mocking of Jesus by the soldiers, accusers that wanted to pin Peter down as a close friend of Jesus followed by Peter’s denial of that fact, the crowds demanding Jesus’ death, the disciples’ Lord and master carrying His cross and having to be helped by another on the side of the road because the brutality had already tortured his body to breaking point… and then the actual crucifixion itself with darkened skies during the day time, nails through flesh, immense bloodshed, earthquake and the temple curtain being torn in two. Then it is finished. Jesus’ body is buried, the stone seals the tomb and the disciples are left wondering what is to become of it all.

This must have been such a weighty time. So many memories must have flooded the disciples heads as they tried to process these events. It was probably a time of sorrow, unease, guilt (particularly for Peter), anguish and fear. However… the now cliche phrase “Sunday is coming” with all the inherent hope, joy, freedom and victory that we now understand to be true of Easter Sunday was as true then as it is today and the disciples got to experience that joy first hand as they learned from the women who visited the tomb that Jesus had risen from the dead. In doing so, Jesus defeated death once and for all, not just physically himself, but also spiritually and eternally, for those of us who follow Him.

Easter Sunday and the meaning that it carries reminds me of the phrase that is linked to French theologian and Pastor John Calvin who ministered in the city of Geneva during the 1500’s – a time that was extremely dark and difficult, in a city that was as worldly as they come. He proclaimed the gospel boldly and the phrase “Post Tenebras Lux” was inscribed on the wall of his church – meaning “after darkness, light.” Doesn’t this summarise Resurrection Sunday so well? After the darkness of persecution, betrayal, guilt, the darkness of sin that Jesus dealt with on behalf of those He came to save and the literal darkness that covered the land – light (and the joy and peace it brings) broke through on Sunday morning. Jesus rose from the grave, changing the face of history and of our interaction with a Holy God. We can now come to God freely through the Son, knowing that God’s riches (His saving love, mercy and grace) have been given to us as a gift at Christ’s expense, meaning sin and death have lost their sting. The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life (Romans 6:23). Jesus paid the price for our sin and through the resurrection brought about the death of death itself, so that those who believe may one live forever with Him.

This doesn’t mean we won’t die physically one day (as we still live in a fallen world subject to decay), but it does mean that the temporary pain and darkness of physical death is not the end of the story as our sins have been forgiven and our right relationship with God is restored through Jesus’ atoning work on the cross. As children of God, our earthly death will be a means of passing from this life to the next, more glorious life with God in Heaven. What a hope we have, and what great news we have been commanded to share!

In Jesus, sin and death is defeated – grace, love and freedom have won.

After darkness… light!

Again, a song came to mind as I pondered these things and so it seems fitting to end again with a video and some lyrics that remind me of Easter Sunday and all that it means. The song is “Because He Lives” by Bill & Gloria Gaither (reworked by David Crowder). God Bless you as you celebrate that He is risen indeed!

God sent His Son
They called Him Jesus
He came to love, heal and forgive
He lived and died to buy my pardon
An empty grave is there to prove my Saviour lives

Because He lives I can face tomorrow
Because He lives all fear is gone
Because I know He holds the future
And life is worth the living just because He lives

And then one day
I’ll cross that river
I’ll fight life’s final war with pain
And then as death gives way to vict’ry
I’ll see the lights of glory and I’ll know he lives

Because He lives I can face tomorrow
Because He lives all fear is gone
Because I know He holds the future
And life is worth the living just because He lives

– Bill Gaither & David Crowder

 

 

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