Easter - Alive and Well!

          Since the beginning of Lent, we have been remembering Christ’s journey toward the cross.  And over the past few days, we have relived the final days of his life.  There was Maundy Thursday when Jesus washed the feet of his disciples as a servant and shared the first Lord’s Supper.  Then on Good Friday, we commemorate Jesus’s arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane, the scattering disciples, the crowds chanting “Crucify Him”, and our Savior hanging on a cross.  “It is finished,” were the last words heard by the crowd before Jesus gave up the spirit.  He was removed from the cross and buried.

          “It is finished!”  Those words were the farthest from the minds of the disciples and followers of Jesus.  Can you imagine what they were thinking when Jesus was crucified and buried?  How can ‘it be finished’ already?  What did this man who we followed and called Messiah accomplish to say that it is finished?  A list of healing miracles, walking on water, and increasing a couple loaves of bread and a few fish to feed 4,000 people?  How does THAT save us?  Now he’s dead and we have lost all credibility!

          And then ‘IT’ happened.  Sightings of a living Jesus.  In Matthew’s version, Mary Magdalene and mother Mary were the first to see him as they went to the tomb and saw an angel sitting on the stone that had been rolled away.  How is that possible?  We saw the nails in his body.  The spear was driven deep into his side.  He was removed from the cross without breath.  He was DEAD! 

          Then Jesus appeared to them.  They didn’t recognize him at first.  He was a new creation, perfect in everyway.  Jesus was alive just as the prophets in the OT scriptures had prophesied.  The two Mary’s went to tell the disciples to meet him in Galilee.  Even the disciples weren’t convinced.  Listen to the final 5 verses of Matthew. 
          “Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them.  When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted.  And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you.  And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.

The words “It is finished” took on a new meaning.  The assumption that Jesus would save the Jewish people from the occupation of Gentile Romans wasn’t in the plans.  God’s will was bigger than the Jewish agenda.  Jesus came not to save the Jews from their current problems, but to save all of creation from the curse of death brought on by sin.

“It is finished.”  When we confess our sins, we experience His forgiveness thanks to Jesus bearing our sins on the cross.  We are a new creation free from the threat of death.  Even upon physical death, we live in Christ.  There is no price to pay for our past, present, and future regarding acceptance into the kingdom of God.  It doesn’t seem fair.  Sometimes it feels like Christ’s overflowing love and mercy should be less gracious.  Like we need to do something to make up for mistakes.  But the punishment for everyone’s sins was paid on the cross.

You are loved by the Creator of the universe.  How much?  He died for us even when we turned away from him.  Can you imagine dying for someone who doesn’t like you?  That is LOVE.  Jesus is alive and well, loving and forgiving, and freeing us from the bondage of our sins.  Praise God, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit for the new creation that we are in this world and in the next.  Amen.