Bulletin: April 21, 2019
Easter changes everything. Having been raised from the dead, Jesus shatters the frightful images that haunt humanity. Betrayal, torture, crucifixion, death, burial—these terrors pale in the brilliant glory of Jesus resurrected. Today’s psalm guides our response to God’s power: “it is wonderful in our eyes.” Today is indeed a day for wonder, for gasping in astonishment at Jesus’ resurrection. For all of human history, death had been final. In the Acts of the Apostles, though, Peter testifies that Jesus, who was publicly executed, was raised to life by God. John’s Gospel admits that the disciples “did not yet understand the Scripture that he had to rise from the dead.” Even Jesus’ closest friends were not expecting this innovation: life after death. In response to the Easter miracle, Paul tells us to become “a fresh batch of dough.” Everything, even our very selves, must become new. Easter changes everything.
TREE OF LIFE
Sometimes the story of Easter seems so familiar that we yawn at its old-fashioned quaintness. The “Good News” is, after all, a couple thousand years old. Today, however, our readings remind us that we are a fresh creation in the risen Lord. Today, we marvel at the newness of Jesus. Today, we praise God for the startling way he chooses to unlock eternal life for us.
When Peter speaks in the Acts of the Apostles, he calls Jesus’ cross a “tree.” Peter’s word choice invites us to remember another tree in scripture, the tree from which Adam and Eve selfishly ate the forbidden fruit. That tree in the Garden of Eden brought death to the human race; Jesus’ tree brings life. Peter explains the purpose of our new life: we must believe in Jesus and ask forgiveness for our sins. We must leave behind the selfish disobedience of the tree of death and embrace the way of self-sacrifice Jesus modeled on the tree of life.
WHERE DEATH GOES TO DIE
Another image that Easter makes new for us is the tomb. Cemeteries rarely bring us joy. No one considers a graveyard the perfect place to celebrate. And yet Jesus’ burial place is the happy location of the disciples’ final conversion to their new way of life. Standing in the tomb where they had placed Jesus’ corpse a few days earlier, Peter and John come to understand the fullness of God’s glory. God’s stunning, life-giving power makes a mockery of death.
This transformation offers hope for our daily lives. Although Christ is risen, human life still faces suffering and heartache. At our lowest moments, we may be tempted to lose faith in God. Easter reminds us that Jesus himself faced the terrors life sends our way and conquered them. When we stand in dark places that feel like our very own tombs, Jesus is with us. The Lord transforms darkest death into new life.
Today’s Readings: Acts 10:34a, 37–43; Ps 118:1–2, 16–17, 22–23; Col 3:1–4 or 1 Cor 5:6b–8; Jn 20:1–9