I have just finished watching the news. Death was the main topic of the day. Two coeds senselessly murdered in the prime of life. Bombs in Bagdad killed 50 or more innocent people whose only crime was to do their daily shopping. Death rules in our day. Gang murders, terrorist bombings, domestic violence and acts of war reign in our corrupted and violent world. Death is rarely a friend, but when it cuts down young people with dreams unfulfilled and so much to give, the tragedy is multiplied.
Such was the case the night Jesus died. The world knew Him as a young rabbi who spoke with authority beyond anything they had ever heard. His teachings were refreshing and full of wisdom and hope. He was the One who had healed the blind, lame and lepers. Jesus had won the heart of the common man and those who had lost their way. To the many who stood by and watched His crucifixion, it was a young life snuffed out in its prime.
I can only imagine the hurt and deep sense of loss felt by the women who made their way to the tomb on that Sunday morning. One can merely speculate as to the conversation among them. These women had watched Him die, this One who they believed would be their deliverer-yea, the long awaited Messiah of their people. He is the One who had filled their hearts with hope, not just for a better life on Earth but also for an eternity with God.
It seems reasonable that their grief was filled with bitterness-bitterness toward the Jewish leaders and the Roman executioners. They had senselessly killed this young man who had spoken with wisdom of the Ancient of Days. These evil men had put to death their last and only hope for a better tomorrow.
Don’t you think the walk to the tomb that morning was slow and depressive? Death does that to us. It drains life from those who are forced to observe it. It is no wonder that Paul would some years later call death the last enemy. When we have faced all of life’s adversaries, one last and forceful enemy stands ready to destroy and steal life, and it is one we cannot escape-death.
The women had little idea that the news upon their arrival at the tomb would radically transform their today and eternity. Indeed, not only theirs, but also the eternity of all who will follow this young Messiah who had been cut down in His prime.
Hear once again the remarkable and exhilarating words of the angel who awaited them at the gravesite: “He is not here. HE IS RISEN!” Startling, amazing, unbelievable were these words. But the force of them could mean only one thing. Because He lives, we can live also. Because He has conquered death and the grave, so can we. Sorrow has been swallowed up in the joy of victory.
The empty tomb the women found that first Easter morning stood as a powerful billboard declaring, “DEATH HAS DIED.” The empty tomb bears testimony that death has lost its power. For the follower of Jesus, death is no longer a trapdoor, but a doorway. The doorway leads to life eternal and the Heaven prepared for us.
Celebrate, dear Christian friend. Easter is the day death died!