I remember it like it was yesterday. The year is 2011, and the day is February 6th. My family and I have been watching together as our beloved Green Bay Packers played the Pittsburgh Steelers in a game you might have heard of called the Super Bowl. It had started off well for us, the Packers had been in the lead for the entire game, and now in the waning moments, the Steelers were attempting a comeback, in an attempt to steal our joy. I was doing my usual stressed out thing, which was to pace the floor and talk about mindless things in between plays. In the last seconds a throw was made, and fell harmlessly to the turf, ensuring the Packers would be victorious in the game. It was in that moment that I, the older brother, and a larger human being, leapt into my brothers arms and wrapped my body around his in celebration. He caught me (just barely) and the two of us rejoiced like we didn’t care who was watching, because well, the truth was we didn’t.
Sometimes I wonder how I would have responded if I was one of Jesus’ followers who went to the tomb that first Easter Sunday morning. Stunned? Surely. Confused? More than likely. Amazed, ecstatic, overjoyed, uncontainable, jubilant, elated and euphoric? Probably even more. I am sure if my brother and I had been there, there would have been a lot of jumping up and down and leaping into each other’s arms, probably some tears, and a lot of man hugs too. I would like to think it would put our Super Bowl celebration to shame.
A select group have made the trek to the tomb on Easter morning. The thing is, they don’t know it’s Easter yet. There’s no such thing as Easter yet. They have come, expecting to find their friend just as they had left Him, dead, after all that’s how the death thing usually works. But what happens next will change the course of history and for many, eternity, forever.
But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared. And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men stood by them in dazzling apparel. And as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise. “And they remembered his words, and returning from the tomb they told all these things to the eleven and to all the rest. Luke 24:1-9
He is alive??!!? Can this possibly be? After all the tears, the heartache and heartbreak. After the scourging and the suffering. After the crying and the cross. Jesus is alive. And soon they will see Him. They will touch His hands and feet. They will see the holes and feel His touch. He will share another meal with them, and explain to them all the things they had struggled until now to understand. The time for sorrow and sadness is over. Now is a time for rejoicing and revelation. The movement is back on, the plan is still in motion, their lives have been forever changed. Jesus, their friend, their teacher, their Savior, is alive.
From that day forward Jesus’ followers lived with reckless abandon. No one caused them fear. Nothing held them back. They lived like you and I have always wanted to. Faith-filled, fearless, and for Him. They had seen a dead man breathe again. The celebration continued for the rest of their lives, and for many of them that’s what it cost them. It is my hope that you and I would live the same. A life of shameless jubilation. Sharing our story with whoever will listen, and even those who won’t. After all, Jesus is alive – and so are we. There can be no greater joy than this. So go His open arms, jump in, and never, ever, let go again.