Saturday, March 13, 2010
Rise & Shine!, Wrightsville Beach, NC
White Dogwood, Bicentennial Park, Greensboro, NC
Sacramental Cup, Greensboro, NC
The Romans of Jesus’ time are known to have crucified an extraordinary number of human beings and displayed them in public as a means of maintaining their ruling power. The Romans crucified Spartacus and his army of 6,000 after a slave revolt in 73 BC, lining the Appian Way with their remains to make their cruel point.
Have you ever wondered how Christianity would have evolved on the world stage if Jesus’ crucifixion had stopped there with no subsequent resurrection? We could still have the assurance of forgiveness, but the validation of this crucified man among the many as the son of God would have been lost. And with it, the validation of power over death and the promise of eternal life. The resurrection is the basis for the church’s witness to the world. It's been proposed that if there had been no resurrection on that first Easter morning, Christianity would have quietly slipped into the sands of time. Jesus asserted many times that he was speaking truth from God. In John 2:18-19, His critics asked him for a sign. He answered that He would give them one—his resurrection. And He did rise from the dead.
Mary Magdalene was the first one to arrive at the tomb in the garden where they had laid Jesus’ dead body. She saw that the large stone covering the entrance was rolled away. This was not necessary for Jesus to leave the tomb, but so that others could see that he was risen! Mary ran to get Peter and John and they entered the tomb to find the grave clothes were left in the shape of a cocoon, as if Jesus had passed right through them. The headpiece was still rolled up in the shape of a head. This was no act of a grave robber.
Jesus later appeared to his disciples who were gathered in a locked room and also shared a meal of fish and bread.
Mary initially thought the risen Son of God was the gardner, but when he said, “Mary,” she turned and cried out, “Rabboni!” which means Teacher. If you’ve never made the connection, this account of Mary and Jesus “In the Garden” relates to the timeless hymn of the same name written by a Philadelphia pharmacist turned hymn writer. Millions have subsequently been transported to that faraway garden and have been enveloped in the awesome joy and wonder of that first Easter experience. Sin entered the world in a garden and resulted in humans being expelled into a broken world. It seems only fitting that sin should be defeated in a garden resulting in the promise of eternal life in a restored world.
Although our path may lead through the sorrows of Gethsemane, the pain of Calvary and the shadow of the grave, the resurrection proclaims that we shall overcome in the joy of eternal life. Frederick Buechner may have phrased it best when he wrote, “Resurrection means the worst thing is never the last thing.” No matter how bad our personal life or world events become, they won’t be the last recorded entry in our history. The resurrection will be the final victory! Let us live each day with a grateful heart and in the spirit of new life.
A bright shining star announced the birth of Christ, and the world grew dark on Black Friday, but the rising glorious Easter sun proclaims that the light of the world has dispelled the darkness and is the true Risen One!
Adam Hamilton, senior pastor of the United Methodist Church of the Resurrection in Leawood, Kansas writes in “24 Hours that Changed the World”, "the suffering, death, and resurrection of Jesus are God’s response to the sin, evil, injustice, tragedy, and pain in this world…The power of Easter can be summarized in one word: hope…It is something we cannot live without." He has closed his annual Easter message for the last twenty years with the same words, “People ask me, ‘Do you really believe this story of the Resurrection?’ And my answer is always the same. I not only believe it, I am counting on it.”