Celebrating Easter in the End Times
By Steve May
Every time we celebrate Easter in these “last days,” we celebrate it in a world that is much different than the one we used to live in. But even though the world has changed, Easter hasn’t.
We should celebrate this Easter by responding to the risen Lord Jesus in the same way his followers responded the first moment they saw him. Remember that as Mary Magdalene and the “other Mary” were hurrying away from the empty tomb that first Easter morning, suddenly Jesus greeted them! They fell at his feet to worship him, and he said, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me” (Matthew 28:10).
In those first words the resurrected Christ spoke, we find three ways to live out the significance of Easter in our daily lives, despite the turmoil of the our times.
Stand Up to Your Fears
After his resurrection, the very first statement Jesus made was “Greetings! Do not be afraid” (Matthew 28:9-10). Why would Jesus say this? Isn’t fear an emotion that we can’t control? It’s not the kind of feeling we would choose, is it? And yet Jesus says, “Do not be afraid,” as if it is a simple matter of choice. Do you know what? It is!
Jesus is not referring to our emotions as much as he is saying, “Don’t think fearfully. Don’t act fearfully.” As the apostle Paul puts it, “Do not be anxious about anything….and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7)
After the events of 9/11, many people chose to put their lives on hold; frozen by fear, they almost put off living! That can happen when we experience a personal crisis: we let uncertainty of the future cause us to put our lives on hold. Jesus is saying, “Don’t do that. I have the power over life and death, and I have the power over any challenge you face.”
No act of war or terror can separate you from his love. No health problem can separate you from his presence. No divorce, no failed business, no sin can separate you from his mercy. Nothing can “separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:37-39).
Because of the resurrection we don’t have to live in fear. If Jesus Christ can conquer death, he can conquer anything. How do we stand up to our fears? By responding with faith—thoughts of faith and acts of faith. Fear is a feeling, and we no longer have to live by our feelings. We can live by faith in the resurrection power of Christ.
Focus On Your Mission
Just as Jesus gave those faithful women a message for the disciples, he has given us a message for all the world: “Tell them that I am alive!” In the resurrection stories in all four Gospels, Jesus emphasized the mission that he has given his followers. “Go and make disciples of all nations…” (Matthew 28:19-20).
“Go and tell others.” In these last days, this message is more important than ever before. The world needs to hear that Jesus died for them and rose again so that they can have forgiveness of sin and eternal life. “For Christ...suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God”(1 Peter 3:18).
Rely On His Promises
Jesus said, “Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.” In other words, “Say what I tell you to say, and I’ll show up.” Imagine how the women who saw the resurrected Jesus must have felt as they told his other followers, “Pack your bags, make the journey to Galilee, and there you will see Jesus—alive and in the flesh!” They were willing to risk their reputations and rely on Jesus’ promise.
Today our only hope is for Jesus to show up! At Easter we make bold promises: Entrust your life to Jesus Christ, and he will turn it around. Give your burdens to him, and he will bear them for you. Confess your sins to him and he will forgive you, absolutely and completely. Give him your sorrow, your fears, your broken dreams, your worries, and he will replace them with joy and peace and love and fulfillment.
We can make such bold promises because we know that we can rely on the word of Jesus, the one who died for us: “Whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life” (John 5:24). He will do what he said he will do: “he who promised is faithful” (Hebrews 10:23). Without him, we can do nothing. As we face uncertain times, we can no longer afford to put our trust in ourselves, our economy, our job, our country, or in anyone or anything else. Our only hope is to put our hope only in God.
Even though the world has changed, Easter hasn’t. We celebrate it this year the same as it should be celebrated every year—the same as it was celebrated on the day of Jesus’ resurrection. We stand up to our fears by thinking and acting in faith. We focus on our mission by telling others about the life-changing power of Jesus Christ. And we rely on his promise to show up…in our lives and in the lives of all who put their trust in him.
|Trim Size:||3.5 in x 5.38 in|
|Published:||January 01, 2006|