Luke 24:1-12/ Isaiah 25:6-9/ Psalm 118
Easter Hope: Giving Life
Today is Easter Sunday and as usual, the internet is full of funny Easter memes. In one of them, Jesus walks out of the tomb/ cave and the disciples are busy taking photos of him on their smart phones. In another, Jesus comes out as a zombie, because, of course, he would! How else could a dead person come alive, right? (wink wink) In yet another one, Jesus comes out of the cave with a pizazz, saying “Ta da!”
But if you google “Easter”, there are more contents on Easter bunnies and chocolate eggs than anything to do with Jesus. Even those who despise Christianity “celebrates” Easter with Easter egg hunt for their children. Christmas and Easter has become so secularized that we easily suffer a collective amnesia about what these holidays are about. That is why, as a church minister, I feel compelled to focus on preaching about the true meanings of Easter and Christmas. So, here it is.
First Aspect of Easter
Easter is joyful; that is why we start with the joyful imagery of Isaiah 25. This vision of a heavenly banquet reflects the Easter hope. God’s people endured a lot yet stayed faithful. There will be rewards for staying faithful through all the ordeals. According to Isaiah 25, there will be great food and wine, death will be swallowed up forever, tears will be wiped away, and the disgrace of God’s people will be taken away.
This is the first aspect of Easter. This hope is the reason why the death of Jesus is not a tragedy. This is why the early Christian martyrs willingly faced the gruesome deaths. And this is why a lot of Christians choose to do the right things even though they get discouraged. This hope is not in this mortal world. We endure the mortal world for the reward in the afterlife. This is the first aspect of Easter. But this is not all.
Second Aspect of Easter
We read the Easter story in the Gospel of Luke. We witnessed the terrified followers of Jesus hear the surprising and good news. We can imagine at least a little how comforting this news would have been for them.
Do you know what the disciples did with this good news, after hearing this good news, after experiencing the risen Christ? Spoiler alert: they started spreading the Easter hope that they experienced with other people who needed hope in their lives. This is the second aspect of Easter.
Easter is all about life. Just as the resurrection of Jesus gave his followers hope and changed their lives, it should also inspire us to be changed. It should comfort us from our life’s ordeals and fill us with such joy that we want to spread this joy with others.
The life-giving ministry and the resurrection of Jesus gave his followers hope for their hopeless lives. They were oppressed and downtrodden people, and Jesus declared their status as God’s beloved. There are a lot of such people in our society too. It is our responsibility as people revived by the Easter hope to spread it to others in our society who need it.
Easter hope has two layers.
On the one hand, as Apostle Paul said, “we live by faith and not by sight.” We feel joy even when our lives kick us hard for the hope of the future reward.
On the other hand, with the joy and hope for the future glory we received, we dedicate our lives giving hope and life to the suffering people in our lives.
God has given us a new life like Jesus who has risen, like a caterpillar that comes out of the darkness of the cocoon to become a beautiful butterfly. Let us go out with our new life and resurrect hope in those for whom hope seems dead, because Easter hope is about giving life. This is the day that God has made and resurrected Jesus. Let us rejoice and be glad in it. Amen.