A message from Mark D. Taylor, CEO of Tyndale.
It’s hard to imagine how Jesus’ disciples felt when their friend and gentle hero was brutally killed by Roman soldiers. He had spent three years preaching that the Kingdom of Heaven had arrived. He had healed hundreds—perhaps thousands—of people. He had performed all kinds of miracles. Many saw him as the anointed king who would overthrow the Roman tyrants and reestablish the kingdom of David.
Just a week earlier, Jesus had been welcomed by throngs of people as he entered Jerusalem. He was welcomed as a hero who would set all things right. But how quickly things had unraveled. Now it was Friday night, and Jesus was dead. What in the world had happened?
In retrospect we see that the disciples should not have been surprised. Jesus told them very clearly what lay ahead for him. We read in Matthew 20:17-19:
As Jesus was going up to Jerusalem, he took the twelve disciples aside privately and told them what was going to happen to him. “Listen,” he said, “we’re going up to Jerusalem, where the Son of Man will be betrayed to the leading priests and the teachers of religious law. They will sentence him to die. Then they will hand him over to the Romans to be mocked, flogged with a whip, and crucified.”
I suspect the disciples didn’t believe this. Surely Jesus was exaggerating! Yet now, just a few days later, everything had happened just as Jesus had predicted. And the disciples’ hopes and dreams lay in ruins. They feared for their own lives. The Romans were ruthless, and even the religious leaders had turned against Jesus and his teachings. Surely his followers were not safe.
Friday dragged into Saturday, and the disciples were distraught. Jesus had turned their lives upside down in a good way. Now everything was upside down in a bad way.
And then Sunday morning arrived, and Mary and the other women went to the tomb and found it empty. Jesus had come back to life! Astounding! Unbelievable! What joy!
Once again, however, the disciples should not have been surprised. Jesus had told them that “the Son of Man will be betrayed . . . and crucified.” But he followed that dire prediction with this joyful and surprising news: “But on the third day he will be raised from the dead.”
And that is exactly what happened. Death was overcome by resurrection and life. The followers of Jesus have celebrated the Resurrection ever since. In one sense, we celebrate the Resurrection every Sunday, and we certainly celebrate it at Easter.
This year, let’s focus on the true meaning of Easter. It’s not about chicks and bunnies and the return of spring. It is a celebration of the triumph of life over death. Yes, we will all die a physical death someday. But followers of Jesus have always had the expectation and confidence that physical death is followed by life eternal with Jesus.
Jesus clearly told his disciples that he would be raised from the dead. And he also taught them that there is hope for all who follow him. In John 14:1-3 we read:
“Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me. There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am.”
May this joyful news give us renewed confidence that life will continue to triumph over death!