Jesus was praying in the Garden of Gethsemane during a time of emotional stress and sorrow to the point of death. He was asking his Father if there was any way for this cup to pass from him, yet he was willing to do whatever God was asking of him.
At this time one of his closest followers, Judas, betrays him into the hands of the authorities. Jesus is beaten, mocked, and whipped within an inch of his life. Then they march him, half naked, up a hill where they nail him to a cross and let him hang there until life slowly oozes out of him.
Three days after Jesus was buried some women went to his tomb to anoint him with spices. They did not find his body. It was gone.
Instead, they found two angels that asked them this question, “Why do you look for the living among the dead?” (Luke 24:5). Jesus had risen from the dead just like he said he would. Jesus was no longer in the tomb because Jesus was longer dead…He was alive!
Why do we look for the living among the dead? Why do we look for life in wealth, activity, accomplishment, or even in religion, when living is only found in Jesus? If we are looking for life anywhere except Jesus then we are looking for the living among the dead.
What does it mean to us here over 2000 years later that Jesus is alive? How does that relate to us today? What is the point of celebrating the resurrection of Jesus each year on Easter Sunday?
I think the Apostle Paul who wrote the majority of the New Testament in the Bible addressed that question in Romans 8:11, “If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you.” The same power that raised Jesus from the dead is available to us as well. Have you ever felt that you are not really alive? Like something is missing in your life? Even though you are walking, talking, and breathing you feel like you are not truly living. The same spirit that raised Jesus from the dead can bring life to you as well.
One of my favorite verses in the Bible is John 10:10 where Jesus says, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” In this verse we see two different purpose statements. The purpose of Satan is to “steal and kill and destroy”. The purpose of Jesus is to give you “life, and to have it to the full”.
Satan wants nothing more than to steal, kill and destroy everything that is good in your life. Your positive relationships, your life changing impact, and your devotion to Jesus are targets for Satan. Whatever is good and alive in you Satan wants to slaughter it.
Jesus wants nothing more than to bring you life to the full. Jesus not only seeks to give you life more abundantly here on earth he desires to give you eternal life in heaven with him. Jesus is where a real, abundant, eternal life comes from.
Easter is not just a celebration of something that happened 2000 years ago. It is a celebration of the aliveness we can experience right now in Jesus. It is about following a Jesus that overcame death so that we could have victory over death!
In 1 Corinthians 15:55, the Apostle Paul writes, “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” If we are following Jesus then death no longer has power over us. Death cannot stop us because Jesus overcame death so we can be alive, not just walking, talking, and breathing, but truly alive!
Death cannot defeat us because there is victory in Jesus!
Tommy Lanham is the pastor at Glen Cove Christian Church