The ongoing victory of the Resurrection
Easter was quite a bit different for us this year and we had to make some adjustments in our observances, yet the message remained intact and the reason we celebrated continued to be an eternal truth: Jesus Christ rose from the dead and is alive forever! Even though things were different in how we celebrated, there was no change in why we celebrated.
As the first Easter came to a close, the followers of Christ were working feverishly trying to sort it all out. They were caught up with both joy and questions. But the game changer was when Christ Himself appeared to them. Luke 24:36 records: “While they were still talking about this, Jesus Himself stood among them and said to them, ‘Peace be with you’” (New International Version). As He continued to make clear to them that it was really Him that they were talking to, there are some things in this section of Luke 24 that He extended to them that are of great benefit for us as we face our world today.
Christ Jesus reminded them that they did not need to be afraid. He asked them a question that we should ask ourselves as we encounter the hard to understand avenues of life: “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds?” (Verse 38). It is understandable that they had fears to deal with in light of all that had happened in their world in the preceding days, but they did not have to remain in that troubled state because something powerful and life changing had happened. What happened back then—the victory won by our Lord–gives us reason to turn our troubles and doubts over to God today and let His peace fill our hearts.
Then He invited them to “Look at My hands and My feet. It is I Myself! Touch Me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have” (verse 39). He strengthened their faith with the truthfulness of His physical presence. To further demonstrate the reality of His physical resurrection, He ate a piece of broiled fish as they watched (verses 41-43). In the midst of our most trying seasons of life, we can always trust in the abiding presence of the living Lord. As we remember that He conquered death, we can rest at ease that He is able to sustain us no matter what we encounter.
We remain in the midst of circumstances that bring a huge temptation to complain and become ungrateful. After a few weeks of being greatly restricted in movement and activity because of the threat of a nasty virus, the reality starts to sink in that things probably won’t get back to any sort of normal for some time yet. And when we focus entirely on that realization there comes a whole mixture of feelings: anger, disappointment, self pity, depression, and on the list goes. While we have to deal with our emotions and recognize our hardships, we cannot afford to dwell there; we need to turn our focus in a different direction–toward the good that we do have, the little things that can bring so much comfort, and, above all, assurance that we can trust God even when we have no idea how things are going to work out. As hard as it is to grasp sometimes, the words of the apostle Paul recorded in Romans 8:28 are absolutely true: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.” In His time and in His way things always work out just as He sees fit. The crucifixion of Christ seemed like a dead end at the moment, until the victory of the Resurrection came. Even in the darkest of hours God was working for the good of those who will trust Him. The victory of the Resurrection remains effective!