“The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay.” (Matthew 28:5-6 NIV)
The Holy Week is past and today we celebrate the resurrection of our Lord. What a week that was, all those centuries ago – a time of hope and disappointment, a time for weeping and a time for unimaginable joy. The day had come when the Holy Lamb of God yielded His life for the sake of helpless humanity. He came to win our pardon, yet to many who considered themselves already perfect, His preaching, work and sacrifice seemed utterly pointless – they rejected and despised Him. Yet, to poor souls cast to the fringes of society, condemned and unwanted, here, at last was One who saw beyond their failings, felt their sorrows, offered them light and hope. Their joy and sense of expectancy had reached a peak when the crowds in Jerusalem picked up palm branches crying ‘Hosanna’. This euphoria was short-lived, however, and the Holy Week became a time when their hopes were crushed, and having never fully understood that Christ was not just their Friend and Saviour, but also the Resurrection and the Life, whom death could not hold captive, they too walked the valley of the shadow of darkness with the Beloved. Their strength had given way, and their faith was not equal to this final test – so, like Mary Magdalene, they wept because they did not understand that the empty tomb symbolised life and triumph of the Lamb.
Yet, they were soon to taste the fruit of our Lord’s suffering, when the peace that transcends human understanding descended into their hearts and minds along with the knowledge what His rising from the dead would mean for all humanity. The resurrection morning became the beginning of a new era, when the Law gave way to grace, and the worst among sinners, even those who all their lives lived as enemies of God, could be received as sons if they just repented and put their hope in the Risen Christ. Drunkards, addicts of all sorts, prostitutes, fraudsters and worse, could now receive a welcome to the Kingdom. Their sins were never more to be held against them because the full price had now been paid at the cross, and what remained for them as they stepped into the Kingdom was their Father’s embrace, the welcome song of the angels and the promise of eternal life.
Now, two thousand years later, we wait for the culmination of that great work on Calvary, when our Lord Messiah will return to receive us into the Kingdom He has prepared for us.
Easter – Poem by George Herbert
Rise, heart, thy Lord is risen. Sing his praise
Who takes thee by the hand, that thou likewise
With him may’st rise:
That, as his death calcinèd thee to dust,
His life may make thee gold, and, much more, just.
Awake, my lute, and struggle for thy part
With all thy art,
The cross taught all wood to resound his name
Who bore the same.
His stretchèd sinews taught all strings what key
Is best to celebrate this most high day.
Consort, both heart and lute, and twist a song
Pleasant and long;
Or, since all music is but three parts vied
Oh let thy blessèd Spirit bear a part,
And make up our defects with his sweet art.