In the past few days, we have been reading stories about Jesus. The stories are a validation of His life and death. They tell us that love, goodness and truth will endure. Jesus did His best: He washed the feet of His apostles, and let Judas kiss Him, He answered Pilate’s questions, He thanked Simon of Cyrene, and He forgave the soldiers and prayed for His executioners, He encouraged the robber on the cross next to Him. Finally, when He lay bleeding, bruised and disfigured He bent His head and died.
However, He did not stay dead in the tomb. By the power of God-the Father-He rose again to a new life. So today we come together to celebrate God’s validation of His life and everything that He stood for. Easter celebrates not the ugliness of His suffering, death and what people did to Him, but the enduring and compelling beauty of His life and love that surmounted it all. We look back over His life and what He said and did.
He told us that it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of heaven; He said it, I didn’t. He said to seek first the kingdom of God, which He described as feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, and giving drink to the thirsty. In short, being concerned about others. He told us disturbing stories about the rich man and the beggar named Lazarus at the gate, about the man who built bigger barns, about security, only to die that night without having kissed his children. He spoke about forgiving one’s enemies as a condition for being forgiven ourselves, for being whole; He said that, I didn’t.
He said that we do not live by bread alone; He asked what does it profit us if we gain the whole world and lose our very souls. He spoke of treating women with respect, He spoke of compassion and gave everyone He met a second chance. He said that we were to absolutely, and without equivocation believe in God and God’s unending love for us. We count far more than the sparrow that falls to the ground. Once more, He was mocked by the culture of His day for this decisive factor. He actually did those things: He fed the poor, healed the sick, took time with friends, He prayed and threw out the moneychanger, He hugged children and had little patience with Hypocrite-religious or otherwise.
His choices and values went against the values of the culture of His day and they had to silence Him; so they hung him on a cross. However, to the surprise of all, He did not stay dead. He rose again and showed us what He is really about. He is about happiness, a new way of life, about the decisions we make at business or school, honesty, caring and concern for others, ethics, fidelity, truth, making relationships work, keeping one’s word, life here and hereafter, real joy and fulfillment. So often, it seems that death and darkness have the upper hand.
Everywhere we turn war rages throughout our world, pandemics scare us into our homes and force distance between society, some of our friends and families face job loss, a major disruption to our routines and lives while others face the loss of their loved ones. But there is power at work in the very process of history that brings peace out of conflict, safety out of danger and life out of death.
The resurrection that we celebrate today is more than God’s answer to the problem of death. The resurrection of Christ has as much to say about living as about dying. The resurrection of Christ is a unique sign that this world, as well as, the world to come is filled with new beginnings. If we try to live as He died. Because of His resurrection, Christ has turned all of our sunsets into bright, glorious dawns. Only if we let Him.