I was imagining the other day that someone came to me back in February and said, “Pastor, why don’t we do something different for Easter this year!” Of all the possible things I could have imagined, our current situation would not have been one of them!
Some have complained that it won’t be the same without the new outfits and Egg hunts, the big crowds in churches and the family gatherings.
Others have made the observation that it will be very like the first Easter, with many of the followers of Jesus hunkered down in their homes and afraid.
But rest assured that amidst all this change and turmoil and uncertainty, one thing remains constant. Christ is still risen. His victory over sin and death and the grave is the real deal and is still in effect.
This article will be published on the day we call Good Friday, which in many ways was anything but Good. If you have ever watched “The Passion of the Christ” you have an insight into the horrible pain and suffering and affliction that Jesus endured to pay for the sins of the world. It is brutal and difficult to watch. Yet we must understand that our sin and guilt and depravity demanded a high price, one that Jesus willingly bore in our place. That was why He laid aside His power as God and came down here as one of us. He came to pay for sin. He came to die.
But those who have placed their confidence and faith in Him know the story does not end there. After His death that was the payment for the sins of the world, He triumphed over death on the third day. He burst out of the tomb in victory, which He gives to all who believe in Him.
Many live without this confidence. For them, things like COVID-19 and cancer and all the other ailments of this world are the final word. They live in dread of things that kill the body. But for those who are in Christ, there is a different outlook. I’m not saying we are able to live without all fear, but we can temper our fears with the knowledge that Christ is STILL risen, and death is not the final word. Jesus gave that assurance to Martha, whose brother Lazarus had died:
Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” John 11:25–26
Oh, by the way, He showed that He had the power over death and the grave by raising Lazarus right after this.
His question to Martha is one for us, too: Do you believe this? Knowing that Jesus paid for sin, knowing He conquered death, believing that we will live even though we die…all of that enables us to face our current circumstances with confidence and certainty. After all, Christ is STILL risen.
“Death has been swallowed up in victory.” “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Corinthians 15:54b–57
Michael Mattil is the pastor of Grace Lutheran Church in Denison. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. The views and opinions expressed here are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of the Herald Democrat.