Sunday, April 17, 2022

Easter Sunday Message - Death Has No Power

Over 2,000 years ago, the Son of Man was crucified and laid in a borrowed tomb. He was innocent of the charges made against him, but still he died. He became the willing sacrifice for us all. Some thought that his death was the end of his message and that the status quo would remain in place, but they were wrong. They were very wrong. By sentencing him to death, they amplified his message and allowed it to flourish. In time, that message would encircle the globe and fill the hearts of millions. Generation after generation have heard his message of love, peace and salvation and many have accepted it and became his followers.

This all started with the fulfillment of a prophecy. A prophecy that was foretold a little over 700 years prior to the birth of this man, Jesus. His ministry to all people will start small in small towns and villages. For those in power, he was more of an annoyance and not taken very seriously. Jesus was just some man out in the wilderness preaching some sort of message. The religious leaders thought nothing of it, but there was still a nagging feeling of uneasiness. 

As Jesus’ message began to spread and word of his miracles were on the lips of more and more individuals, it was clear that his message would soon cause the religious leaders to become more and more uneasy. They would see him as a threat to the established order and they had to stop him. As they tried to silence his words, his popularity grew and they were unknowingly fulfilling the prophecies given by Isaiah.

In the fifty-third chapter of his book, Isaiah writes this about Jesus, “Who has believed our message? To whom has the Lord revealed his powerful arm? My servant grew up in the Lord’s presence like a tender green shoot, like a root in dry ground. There was nothing beautiful or majestic about his appearance, nothing to attract us to him. He was despised and rejected—a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief. We turned our backs on him and looked the other way. He was despised, and we did not care.

The man of sorrow would become despised by those who sought to destroy him. He would be rejected by those around him and even one of his own disciples, Peter, would deny him three times. Jesus knew that the world would soon reject him. His disciples hid after he was crucified. They, like the others, found themselves wondering about Jesus and what he had told them. He told them that this would happen and that he would return. But, when they saw him die on that cross, they believed that it was done.

But on that glorious first Easter Sunday, three women went to the tomb to anoint his body and do those things that were required to take care of the dead.

In the Gospel bearing his name, Mark, in chapter sixteen writes, “Saturday evening, when the Sabbath ended, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome went out and purchased burial spices so they could anoint Jesus’ body. Very early on Sunday morning, just at sunrise, they went to the tomb. On the way they were asking each other, ‘Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?’ But as they arrived, they looked up and saw that the stone, which was very large, had already been rolled aside.

The women were going to the tomb to carry out the last remaining tasks of burying an individual. According to Jewish law, the body of the deceased is to be washed thoroughly. This process is called the “tohorah”. The body is to be wrapped with a clean shroud called a “tachrichim” and anointed with oils and aromatic herbs such as olive, laurel, palm and cypress to help fight the effects of the rapid decomposition that occurred in the Mediterranean heat. This ritual was done out of love for the deceased.

But, those women who came to do these things for the dead soon found that Jesus wasn’t there. He had risen from the dead just as he told his disciples.

Mark, in his Gospel, writes, “When they entered the tomb, they saw a young man clothed in a white robe sitting on the right side. The women were shocked, but the angel said, ‘Don’t be alarmed. You are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead! Look, this is where they laid his body. Now go and tell his disciples, including Peter, that Jesus is going ahead of you to Galilee. You will see him there, just as he told you before he died.’

They had fully accepted in their minds that they would carry out the last ritual for the body of Jesus. This is what we have all come to expect. A person is born, lives and then dies. However, things completely changed for all of us. Jesus conquered death once and for all and broke the bonds that held us to this corrupt, fallen world. 

The prophet Daniel, in the ninth chapter of his book, wrote, “A period of seventy sets of seven has been decreed for your people and your holy city to finish their rebellion, to put an end to their sin, to atone for their guilt, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to confirm the prophetic vision, and to anoint the Most Holy Place.”

Daniel tells us exactly what Jesus did for each of us. He put an end to our sins and became the atonement sacrifice for each of us. It is through him that we have received everlasting righteousness. Jesus, through his life, death and resurrection, gave us the gift of salvation that his Father graciously extended to us.

Paul, in the fifteenth chapter of his first letter to the Corinthians, writes, “For sin is the sting that results in death, and the law gives sin its power. But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Because of that empty tomb, we all have the promise of everlasting life. Jesus has given us that victory over sin and death. The gift of salvation is ours to receive and is given freely to us. When you consider the debt of sin that you have added to your ledger, there is no way to repay it. You didn’t deserve that gift of salvation, but God, as your Father, showed His love for you and offered everlasting life with Him.

Once we receive that gift into our hearts, we know that we have a mansion in Heaven and a place at the table with all our friends and loved ones who have gone on before us. One day, we will all be together where no death, pain or suffering exists.

John, in the twenty-first chapter of the Book of Revelation, writes, “I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, ‘Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them. He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.’

So, as you enjoy this Easter Sunday, please think about the meaning of Easter and what God, through His son, Jesus, has done for you. Share the story of Jesus’ resurrection and its impact on your life. When you share the story, you are sharing a story with the happiest of all endings.

By taking just a moment to tell others about Jesus, you are fulfilling his commandment to share his message of love, hope, peace and salvation. Live to share the message and stand firm in His grace.

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.

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