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.” Mark 16:5-7
Today is Resurrection Sunday! There is no greater day in the history of the universe—nothing trumps it. Today Satan is stomped, sin subdued, and death itself is turned backwards. Easter is the defining day of humanity. There is no other day more provocative or preeminent in the history of mankind. Christ’s birth is amazing, but without the crucifixion it is just a miraculous birth story. The crucifixion is remarkable, but without the resurrection there is no victory and Jesus is just another religious teacher whose bold claims are shattered each moment the stone stayed in place. The resurrection shows without doubt that Jesus was and is God and that the price has been paid.
For believers, today is the day of true, real, and lasting hope. Today Christmas is the most prominent Christian celebration—whether or not the people celebrating are Christians at all! Historically though, Easter, Resurrection Sunday, has been the most celebrated Christian holiday. The birth of Christ is essential to Christian orthodoxy. We look at Christmas with great hope and joy, celebrating God coming near to us. We decorate our homes, have parties, our streaming platforms are populated with favorite Christmas movies, we take days off, kids are granted a break from school, participate in family traditions and all because of the birth of a baby.
But Resurrection Sunday is different. Not as many people observe or participate in it. On the surface, it’s much easier to get behind the birth of a baby than to celebrate the crucifixion of a 33-year-old Jewish carpenter. It’s much harder to find your favorite crucifixion movie. What happened on the cross is not something we invite our friends over to celebrate. Most of us don’t have many resurrection celebrations, our traditions surrounding this historic day are generally relegated to a single Sunday afternoon meal. While Christmas is essential, even foundational for understanding who Christ is, only two Gospels—Matthew and Luke—refer to it. All four Gospels spend considerable time recounting the details of Jesus’ death and resurrection. This significant focus on the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ over against the incarnation is because the resurrection proved everything Jesus said was true.
While celebrating Jesus’ death and resurrection goes largely overlooked in wider society, these are precisely the days we must remember most. The crucifixion is a time of solemn remembrance as we seek to understand in greater depth what God did for us by sending his Son to die for us. But the resurrection gives us hope. We all need hope—the belief that things will get better for us in the future. Even as our world seems to erupt with one controversy after another, as politicians promises prove to be cannon fodder for disenfranchised and frustrated constituents, and as the endless banality of our online existence seems to lull us into a cultural slumber, the person of Jesus on the other side of the resurrection is a shock to the doldrums of a worldly status quo. It is a hope that awakens us to what is real and true. Jesus’ life and words are validated by the resurrection. His teaching on the end of time is given a glorious exclamation point rather than a question mark.
We have hope. We need not be afraid at what the future holds. We need not be afraid that present injustices will escape future punishment. God will do everything he has ever said. We can bathe in the hope that springs up from that dusty old tomb and joyously swim in it. There is hope beyond the grave! Every single word from Jesus’ lips was validated that day. His claims to forgive sin, to give us life, to judge wickedness and reward righteousness, to satisfy our every need took on new meaning on Resurrection Sunday. We have hope for today and for tomorrow! We can be courageous, because in the resurrected Jesus we have eternity as our inheritance and nothing can take that—him!—away from us! Praise the name of the Lord both now and forevermore. Amen.
Travis Michael Fleming is Founder and Executive Director of Apollos Watered, a ministry dedicated to helping believer of Jesus Christ to love and live like him in our global village. As the voice of Apollos Watered, Travis hosts a weekly podcast with listeners across the United States and in 50 countries. The podcast features conversations with Christian leaders as well as teaching that helps Christians around world to engage their cultures and learn from one another how to live out their faith Travis grew up in the farmlands of east central Illinois and has been a pastor for over 20 years from the urban center of Chicago to the north shore of Massachusetts and back to the suburbs of Chicagoland. Under his leadership each church grew in spiritual depth and diversity. Now living in Jacksonville, Florida with his wife and four children, Travis is a gifted speaker, frequently addressing churches, Christian camps, and conferences around the world. He boldly combines the deep truths of Scripture with a winsome, energetic and often entertaining style.