April 17, 2022; John 20: 1 – 9; Easter Sunday
It is easy to miss the meaning of Easter. It is easy to think that Easter is simply about Jesus being raised from the dead. Now, of course, we believe that Jesus who was crucified by the Romans and was buried, was raised from the dead on that first Easter morning. Today’s gospel tells us how Mary Magdala found the empty tomb. But to limit our understanding of Easter only to what happened to Jesus would be to render our understanding incomplete. Easter does not simply celebrate Jesus’ resurrection. It also celebrates the God who raised Jesus up.
Easter tells us that our God has the power to defeat death and that our God is capable and willing to defeat death in our world. Easter tells us that God is opposed to the injustice that would crucify an innocent man and that God will act to reverse that injustice in history. Easter tells us that God hears the prayer of the one who cries out, “My God, my God who have you abandoned me,” and will save all who will turn to God in need.
Easter, then, gives us the clearest picture of who our God is and how God will act. It tells us that God cares for us and will act in our lives to destroy evil. This makes Easter a feast of hope. If we are experiencing some flaw in our lives that constantly trips us up and regularly leads us to anger and discouragement, a flaw we have tried over and over again to heal without success, Easter says that God has the power to heal us and will do so in our lifetime. If there is a problem in our family, someone we love who suffers, is despondent, or unable to cope, Easter tells us that God loves those we love even more than we do and God will act to save them. If we look at all that is wrong in our world, the way that greed and hatred hold the upper hand, Easter says that God’s power is stronger than war, violence, and oppression and that God will move human hearts to justice and peace.
Now, of course, the way God works in our world today is not as clear as it was that first Easter morning. But that is why we celebrate Easer, to remind ourselves that God is powerful and that God will use that power for our benefit. The challenge of Easter is to believe that God will do for us what God did for Jesus. The challenge of Easter is to trust that God’s power is greater than the power of evil, that God’s love is stronger than death.