Good Friday, the day Jesus died, was the darkest day ever. For those standing at the foot of the cross, it must have felt like all was lost. Jesus’ friends, feeling dejected, ran away in fear. But just three short days later, all was changed. When Mary arrived at the tomb on that first Easter morning, it was empty. Nada, nothing, zip! Jesus was not there.
He had risen!
Jesus appeared first to a woman, then to his disciples, and over the next few weeks, he appeared to more than 500 other people. We know that Jesus rose because lives were changed. Peter, who once denied Jesus, became a strong leader in his church. Jesus’ own brother James, once a skeptic, became the head of the church in Jerusalem. Andy Stanley once said, “What would it take for you to believe your brother was the Christ? It would take him rising from the dead!” Resurrection -- that’s what accounts for the change of hearts of these people. Many of the early followers were martyred for their faith. That’s how sure they were of the resurrection. People literally staked their life on the fact that Jesus rose. It’s not just because the Bible says so that we believe, it is because of the changed lives of the men and women who knew him.
Most of us understand on some level that Jesus’ death on that first Good Friday was a sacrifice to pay for our sins. I have accepted that fact for decades. But in recent years, I have come to realize that I did not fully understand the impact that Jesus’ resurrection has both on the present and the future. It is in his resurrection that he was victorious.
The good news is that because of him, we too can be triumphant right NOW. Ephesians 1:18-20 says, “(I pray that you may know)… his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms…” We do not need to lead an impotent life here on earth; we have the power of God with us. Because of the resurrection, we too have power over sin and death. We do not need to give into a life of sin, because Jesus has made a way for us. Living the Christian life in our own power is impossible, but take heart, we don’t need to do it on our own. We must embrace the fact that the same power that raised Jesus from the dead is available to us in our life here and now.
When I reflect back over my life, I see the resurrection power! My life could have gone so differently. I was a bit of a wild teenager, but Jesus saved me from going completely off the rails. Only because of his power in my life have I avoided the alcoholism that runs so rampant in my family. Because of his direction for my life, I was able to attend a Christian college when there was no money for education in my family. The Lord set a path for me as a mom, surrounding me with Christian friends who helped to show me the way. God’s power has allowed me to accomplish things in ministry that I would have never imagined as a teen! Last summer, when I walked into the first church in Africa and heard the praise music, tears flowed down my face as I realized how far God had brought me (literally and spiritually!). It is the power of God that brought me to that place. God took an insecure girl from a “not very special” beginning and transformed her into a woman who knows she is loved and valued by Him.
The resurrection is important now, but it is also important for the future! It matters because like Jesus, we will not stay dead if we are His (1 Thessalonians 4:14). We too will rise! In Christ there is hope. Even when things don’t go like we would like them to go here on earth, with an eternal perspective, life looks different. This is not all there is! There is more! This life is not a destination, but it is a preparation for a final destination. That’s what we learn from the resurrection.
There is an old song that says, “Because he lives, I can face tomorrow.” That is why the empty tomb is the best gift ever! The empty tomb shows us the power of God both now and for the future.
Spring Women’s Events
Check out the upcoming events this spring — April, May and June — at both of our campuses. Click HERE for details.