Christ is Risen! Alleluia!
This past week we remembered with solemn devotion the suffering and death of our Lord Jesus. We gazed with love on those marks of the scourge, the nail, and the thorn. We journeyed to the cross with the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world— the sins of you, of me, of each and every one. We heard Jesus our friend and redeemer cry out, “It is finished!” And, having accomplished our salvation, we saw Him laid in a tomb not even His own.
However, the grave is not the end of the story! The holy women, so brave to go and honor the body of Jesus with ointment and spices were greeted this Easter morning with wonderful news! The angel asks them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here! He has risen!” The Gospel does not end in sadness, but ends in the good news of joy and life that never ends! What joy to know that Jesus, our Beloved, has been raised! What happiness to know that death has no power over Him! Our own joy, however, is made complete in the message of hope given to us this Easter morning: Christ is arisen and we too shall rise!
The Psalmist wrote some thousand years earlier, “I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the Lord!” (Psalm 118:17). This is our hope and our joy, too: that because Jesus lives we shall have life also. Because He has overcome, we too are victorious because of Him.
These words were words of hope and comfort to Martin Luther as they were to the Psalmist. In 1530, Luther was an outlaw. His enemies would have arrested him if he were found; so he was hidden in Coburg castle. While in hiding, he fell into a deep depression. Luther’s friend, the musician Ludwig Senfl, sent him a song using the words of this psalm. They had such a profound impact on Luther that he snapped out of his depression and wrote the words large on the wall of his bedroom in the castle and eventually incorporated them into his seal: “I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the Lord.” Luther remembered that Jesus had risen and promised life to him also. He realized that by experiencing the crosses of this life, one could more fully know the greatness of resurrection and new life. He remembered that a person’s strength did not need to come from within, but it came from Jesus and the power of His resurrection. The good news of Christ’s victory gives us comfort and strength. Comfort during grief and challenging times, and strength to claim the victory over whatever in life would perplex us. It gives us power to live, power to serve, and power to spread this wonderful news!
May God bless you during this season of our Paschal rejoicing.
Christ is arisen and we too shall rise! Give God the glory! Alleluia!