My pastor tells the story of a pre-ministerial student who had a knack for seeing the gloomy side of things. You know the type. We all have a friend who seems to have more flat tires, head colds, and all-around bad luck than the rest of us. Now my pastor Jim is a sunny-side up kind of guy, and sometimes he didn’t quite know how to respond to his cheerless student. One day, after hearing yet another list of minor-league complaints from the young man, Jim blurted out the first thing that came to mind: “Tomb’s empty!” he declared.
And so it is: that tomb is EMPTY. This fact overrides every dire prediction, devastating prognosis, and unbearable circumstance. Painful as these things are, Jesus Who died lives today. The tomb that held Jesus could not contain Him; death itself could not hold Him. Try to hold that thought in your mind for a minute. The implications of the Resurrection are like a tsunami of good news that washes through history right into our lives today. His Resurrection marks the moment history turned, and the kingdom of God grows inexorably closer with each passing day.
Everything has changed. Through the indwelling Holy Spirit, God walks with man and woman again in the cool of the day, just as He did in Eden (Genesis 3:8). Now we have the certainty of prophecies fulfilled. By faith Job could say, centuries before Jesus was ever born: “For I know that my Redeemer lives, and He shall stand at last on the earth: And after my skin is destroyed, this I know, that in my flesh I shall see God.” (Job 19:25-26). Think how much more we know now, post-Resurrection, than Job knew then. Job didn’t even really know what he meant when he spoke of a Redeemer, much less the resurrection of that Redeemer, much less his own resurrection. We know that our Redeemer lives! We have no excuse for pessimism, and in fact a Christian with a dismal attitude reflects pretty poorly on the hope we say we have in Jesus. As Teresa of Avila said, “God save us from gloomy saints!”
I am not saying we should all just be happy all the time. I am saying we have excellent reason for joy and hope and peace in this everyday life, right now. Jesus walked through an unimaginably painful life and death, showing us that He really “gets it” when it comes to suffering, rejection, and injustice. He is intimately, personally acquainted with your pain because He felt it Himself and because He loves you so much. But “praise be to God… in His great mercy He has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead…. In this we can greatly rejoice, though now for a little while (we) may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.” (1 Peter 1:3,6- go ahead and read that verse aloud and see if you don’t get a little joyful…) Our hope is alive because Jesus is alive. Our trials are real and varied, but because of the cross and the Resurrection, these trials have meaning: the proving and refining of our faith. (v. 7)
At the tomb of Lazarus, weeping Martha has her faith refined. She tells Jesus that she knows her brother will rise again “at the last day,” but Jesus goes a step further. What Jesus wants her to know is that He is not only able to accomplish resurrection, He is the Resurrection: “I am the Resurrection and the Life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11: 24-26)
Do we believe this? Resurrection is not only what He does, it’s who He is. “Behold, I make all things new.” (Revelation 21:5) All things new. Nothing slips through the cracks with Jesus. What in your life needs to be “made new?” Do you (do I) dare to believe that He will resurrect what is dead and make all things new?
The Resurrection demonstrates without a shadow of a doubt that “with God, all things are possible.” (Matthew 19:26) Even in the midst of the good, the bad and the ugly facts of this life on earth, the Resurrection of Jesus from the dead means we can“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-17).
Rejoice always, and again I say, Rejoice! Celebrate God all day, every day. I mean, revel in Him! Delight yourselves in God, yes, find your joy in Him at all times. May you always be joyful in your union with the Lord. Again I will say, rejoice. Philippians 4:4 various
Though I have not seen You, Jesus, I love You; and even though I do not see You now, I believe in You and am filled with an expressible and glorious joy! 1 Peter 1:8
Jesus, I put my trust in You. You plant me like a tree that sends out roots by a stream. Just like the tree, I will not fear when the heat comes or be anxious in drought, because you will keep me green and fruitful. After all, You have said that in this world I will have trouble, but I can take heart, for You have overcome the world. Jeremiah 17:7-8, John 16:33
Jesus, clothe me with strength and dignity, so I can laugh without fear of the future. After all, Your joy is my strength. Proverbs 31:25, Nehemiah 8:10
When I think of all You have done for me, Father, I am like someone who dreams… my mouth is filled with laughter and singing. I will tell everyone that You have done great things for me, and I am glad. Keep setting me free, Lord, so that my tears lead me back to joy in You. Psalm 126
I thank You, Father, that You have made known to me the path of life. In Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore. Psalm 16:11