Holy Week 2018: Resurrection Sunday

Each day from Palm Sunday until Easter, we’ll publish a short devotional to help prepare your heart for Resurrection Sunday. For each devotional, we recommend opening with a short prayer for illumination, reading the text for the day, spending a few moments meditating on it, reading the devotional, and then closing with a prayer.

Read John 20:1-23

He is risen! On this beautiful Easter Sunday, consider how amazing it is that we worship a God who is not dead, but alive. What other religion can boast a living God? Who else is powerful enough to lay His life down and take it up again? While the gravesites of every other major religious leader have been named holy places in their worship, our Lord was buried in a borrowed tomb. Why would the Lord over life itself spend even a penny on a three-day rental? The tomb is the final resting place for death, but Jesus is Lord over the grave.

John recounts Mary Magdalene’s startling discovery that the tomb was empty. Before dawn, this brokenhearted disciple of Jesus went to the tomb expecting to anoint the broken body of her crucified Master. Instead, she found the stone rolled away and Jesus’ grave clothes neatly folded. Peter and John sprinted to the grave to confirm the news, but He was not there.

He is risen, indeed.

Consider the origins of the word “Easter”. Some have thought it to have been derived initially from the Anglo-Saxon eâstre, meaning “east”. Others have pointed to the German word ostern, the root of which (ost) is literally translated “the rising of the sun.” From that same root, we get the modern German word auferstehung, or “resurrection”. Hear it now: Jesus—the perfect Passover Lamb—fulfills the law as the all-sufficient sacrifice for our sin. After three days in the grave, like the eastern rising of the morning sun, our Lord breaks through the darkness of the grave and emerges victorious over sin and death.

This is why we shout. This is why we sing. This is why we celebrate. This is why we rejoice. This is why we’re different. This is why we tell others. The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the best news in the world.  The resurrection changes everything.

Think about the disciples.  Before the resurrection, they were a group of faithless, fearful, and stubborn followers. Throughout His life and ministry, Jesus told them repeatedly that His resurrection was always the plan, but they failed to understand until Jesus presents Himself to them in bodily form after His crucifixion. It was as though, all at once, everything He’d ever said to them snapped into place mentally.  They got it. He was no longer merely their Rabbouni; now, He is the risen Lord. The resurrection of Jesus Christ changed their worldview, it empowered their ministry, and it gave them a new and living hope upon which they could confidently rest.

Apart from the resurrection, sin was our legacy and death was our destiny. Now, the empty grave is our victory through Christ—our eternity. The sin that once enslaved us has been defeated through the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The death that once beckoned us has been overcome through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Our legacy has been redeemed. Our destiny has been rewritten. Our eternity has been secured. We have been “raised in glory” (1 Cor. 15:43) to glorify our risen Lord. Now, we are called to go. The risen King Christ intends for his followers to go with Him out of the grave and into the world to share the good news of the gospel with anyone who would hear and receive it by faith.

Have you ever thought about what makes today so special? Read 1 Corinthians 15:12-19. Why is Easter so important? If Jesus had not been resurrected, would He still be worth following? Why?

Think of the people in your life who embrace a different tradition of faith. How does the resurrection separate Christianity from other religions? Read 1 Peter 1:3-4. What does it mean to have “a living hope”?

Written by Michael Byrd