Raise your hand if you’ve been going to church since you were in the womb. Keep it up if you’ve celebrated at least fifteen Easters in church.
I can’t see those hands through the computer screen, but I am sure there are many of them raised. That’s a good thing! It’s great that so many of you are so familiar with the Easter story. But sometimes that means that when the day rolls around, we move into auto pilot—moving through the motions of pastel dresses, church services, and dinner with family without every pausing to consider why the empty tomb matters so much.
I don’t want you to miss it this year, so let’s start with the basics. As Christians, we set aside Easter to celebrate the fact that three days after Jesus was crucified, His friends came to His tomb to find it empty (John 20). At first they panicked, thinking His body had been stolen. Peter and John took off running to tell the bad news to the disciples. Mary Magdalene stayed at the tomb, glued there by her grief until she heard some of the most powerful words ever spoken …
"Woman, why are you crying?" (John 20:13).
Those words came from angels. They weren’t being insensitive. They simply already knew that her grief was misplaced. Jesus was not dead. He had risen. Soon afterward, Jesus Himself appeared to Mary, then to the disciples, and then to people throughout the region before ascending back to heaven and promising to prepare a place for those of us who love and follow Him.
The moment the empty tomb was discovered was a turning point, a game changer. In fact, it changed everything. Jesus was dead. His body was in a tomb that was sealed with a stone. Mary’s wept because her friend and Savior was buried. Because He is our Savior, too, our hope was buried with Him. Everything seemed dark.
But then … everything changed in an instant. Jesus didn’t stay in the grave. The grave was empty. He wasn’t dead. He was alive. Hope wasn’t buried. It was resurrected.
Here’s a little perspective on that reality.
Buddha’s body was cremated and placed into relics.
Muhammad is buried in a mosque in Saudi Arabia.
The founder of Scientology was cremated and his ashes were scattered in the Pacific Ocean.
The central figure of Rastafarianism is interred in a cathedral in Ethiopia.
Jesus alone conquered death and rose from the grave. It’s the most dramatic difference between Him and other spiritual leaders. The resurrection not only confirms His divinity, it reveals why Jesus is a safe place to put our hope.
Since He overcame death, there is nothing in our lives or in our world that Jesus cannot overcome.
To be clear, Easter is not about you. It is about a God so big that nothing, not even death, can defeat Him. But the reason we should celebrate with intentional gladness this Sunday is that there is nothing in our lives that is impossible for Jesus to overcome. There is nothing dead in our hearts or circumstances that He cannot breathe life back into.
Are there circumstances in your life that feel hopeless?
Have you had to "bury" something that you love dearly this year?
Are you facing something that feels impossible to overcome?
That’s good. You’re in a prime position to look into the empty tomb this Easter and see hope. There is nothing that can defeat Jesus. There is no power that can hold Him. There is nothing that can stop Him. All of that means He is a safe place to put our hope.
What’s the big deal about Easter? Simply put, Jesus is alive. May you worship Him with that in mind this Sunday.
Note: Portions of this post are taken from Erin’s book Beautiful Encounters: The Presence of Jesus Changes Everything, set to release June 1st.