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What Difference Does Easter Make?by Dr. Ralph F. Wilson
It makes a lot of difference to those who are in touch enough with reality to take life and death seriously. It made a lot of difference to a very real woman named Mary. Let me tell you her story.
Mary had the heart-wrenching honor of washing the dried blood from Jesus' lifeless body as two other followers prepared the tomb cut into Jerusalem's cold limestone. Mary wept as she washed--wept and remembered....
She had been born to luxury, heiress to a textile fortune, a native of Magdala, a town along the coast of Galilee. "Little good it did me," she mused. Money had brought the opposite of happiness. She look back at her teen years as a blur of painful, compulsive acting out. Her parents had thrown up their hands in despair, she recalled. She recollected the gnawing fear, the self-loathing that ate at her very core. And she could remember the caring boldness in Jesus' penetrating eyes as he had confronted the demons that tormented her and commanded them to be gone forever. That had been the last of the frantic, distraught Mary. A gentle, peace-filled Mary had taken her place. Until today.
Today she had seen her Lord die an excruciating death, his body weight hanging limp from the nails driven through his hands and feet, suspended from a cross like a common criminal.
Her heart caught in her throat as she remembered and wept and washed away the caked blood with her tears. She wept, too, as she watched the men lift Jesus' corpse onto the tomb's carved ledge, and roll a massive stone across the doorway.
Was all her hope for nothing? What of all the thousands of diseased bodies he had healed? The broken lives he had restored? The promises of the Kingdom of God?
But early Sunday morning she was back at the tomb to finish anointing his body. When she arrived the tomb stood open, stone pushed to the side, ashes of the Roman guards' watchfire still smoldering. "How can they be so cruel?" she cried as she ran to tell the apostles. So cruel.
But it wasn't cruelty that rolled away the stone that Easter morning. It was the powerful hand of God as Jesus Christ stepped forth brimming with Life.
Mary saw him, mistaking him for the gardener. But there was no mistaking his familiar voice--"Mary." She fell at his feet, tears of grief melting into tears of joy. "Rabboni," she said as she looked into his face. "Teacher."
Yes, Easter bunnies still capture the hearts of children and schools talk about Spring break, but you and I know what really happened on Easter.
In an instant history changed forever, because where once the human mortality rate had held stead at 100%, now it skipped a beat as Jesus, Savior of all mankind, stepped out of dead statistics into life. Death is the last word no longer for Jesus' followers, life is.
"Believe in Bhudda," some still insist amid the marketplace of the world religions. "Confucius," say the Chinese. "Mohammed," cry the Muslims. "Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh," shout his followers, and on it goes.
"Jesus," Mary would tell us, "He changed my life." And millions around the globe would echo, "Mine, too. He touched my life, too."
For while religious leaders have come and gone, the fact remains: only One stepped forth from the tomb. Only One has risen from the dead. Only One has conquered death. Only One offers the promise of eternal life to those who follow him.
"I am the resurrection and the life," Jesus said. "He who believes in me will live, even though he dies, and whoever lives and believes in me will never die."
So why do Jesus' followers gather in churches on Easter morning? To show off their Easter finery? God forbid. Rather
- To celebrate the victory of Life over death,
- To help their children and grandchildren share their faith that Jesus is alive, and
- To declare that Jesus Christ is Lord indeed!
We hope you'll join us and millions of Christians around the world this Easter Sunday.
Copyright © 2023, Ralph F. Wilson. <pastorjoyfulheart.com> All rights reserved. A single copy of this article is free. Do not put this on a website. See legal, copyright, and reprint information.
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