this everlasting gratitude.

How crazy it seems that the day commemorating the death of Jesus could be called “Good Friday.” Although the day itself was full of suffering, its results were, indeed, very good. In his death we receive a glimpse of joy, because of what the Messiah promised would come from it: redemption. For although we mourn over his crucifixion, we do so in Godly sorrow. Followed by our tears are spirits that radiate, knowing that we can humbly and reverently bow at the cross, where we’ve been given countless second chances.

Easter. Three days later, his glorious light shines through. We must be careful not to go about this day of celebration absentmindedly, as I shamefully have for many years, becoming so caught up in the commotion of the holiday itself-the good food, the beautiful colors and decorations, the whispers of spring, and even the time spent with my family-that I haven’t even given adequate praise to the one who is the reason for the holiday. Let us reflect upon the wonder and beauty of Jesus Christ, who was crucified for the cleansing of our sins and rose again triumphantly.

What does the empty tomb mean to us today?

The resurrection is hope. Jesus demonstrated that physical death is not the end, and that we, too, are guaranteed to be raised again through baptism and acceptance of the Holy Spirit. God is the giver of life and has granted us the gift of eternal life through Jesus.

The resurrection is peace. We can rest knowing that death has been conquered, and that we, as believers, are “more than conquerors” through Christ. (Romans 8:37). In the empty grave lies overwhelming victory. Because the Son of God lives forever, we can face each day guided by the calm reassurance that we are not alone in our trials. Satan has been defeated. Because Jesus overcame, we will overcome by his perfect blood. He will carry us and cover us forevermore with his endless grace.

The resurrection is the foundation of everything we believe. It is a validation of his divinity: of every miracle he performed and every claim he made about who he was. If Jesus did not rise from the grave, then he was either just a good man or a fraud; he’d have no dominion over life and death, and we’d remain lost in our sin, destined to die. Through accounts of the empty tomb; through his followers’ newfound strength and passion; through countless eyewitnesses; through conversions and changed lives and martyrs; we can begin to grasp the truth and weight of this event. His resurrection and ascension into heaven prove that he did, indeed, die as the sacrificial lamb in order to save the world from sin.

1 Corinthians 15:12-19 But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised.  And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost.  If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.

Read that last verse again. “…to be pitied.” Christ is risen, and we have a beautiful reason to live because of it. We aren’t called to simply be “kind people” throughout life because some wise, morally upright teacher said so, but to be loving servants and faithful messengers for his cause because the perfect, unconditionally compassionate and selfless son of God commanded so.

Matthew 28:1-6 After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb. There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men.The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay.

Those who experienced the presence of Christ in the 40 days following his resurrection became deeply moved by the hope that he carried with him. We know that it was unlike anything that had ever happened before, because even for his very own disciples, it was difficult to grasp that the flesh and bones of Jesus Christ were again present in the room. He showed them the scars on his hands and feet, and when they still did not believe, he ate a piece of fish in their presence. In the time that he spent with them, he revealed the meaning of the prophecies regarding his death and resurrection. He gave them insight as to what they had seen and experienced meant under the light of the new covenant. They could now study the Old Testament with the benefit of hindsight and discover Jesus as its fulfillment. They responded with believing hearts, and sparked a revolution within the early church, “unable to contain what they had seen and heard.” (Acts 4:20)

It’s incredible how his life and death absolutely changed everything. He dismantled ethnic barriers and meticulous regulations that were set in place under the old covenant. Jesus brought freedom, forgiveness, and redemption to all people, promising that all who believe will be saved.

“Remember that the Passion of Christ ends always in the joy of the Resurrection of Christ, so when you feel in your own heart the suffering of Christ, remember the Resurrection has to come — the joy of Easter has to dawn. Never let anything so fill you with sorrow as to make you forget the joy of the Risen Christ.”

Smile today, laugh today, cry today, and lift your hands today in gratitude to the Risen King of Glory.


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