Jeremiah 31:1-6/ Colossians 3:1-4/ Matthew 28:1-10
Choose Life (-Giving Lifestyle)
“Choose life” is a catchphrase from the movie Trainspotting. It is about a young man who initially doesn’t choose life, which contains job, house, family, and material possessions. He and his friends are drug addicts. After constantly getting into trouble, in the end, he decides to choose life with all the ordinary things in it. Of course, when I say, “Choose life” in the Easter context, it doesn’t mean jobs, house, family, and so on. Instead, I am going to say, “Choose a life-giving lifestyle.”
Death couldn’t contain Jesus: when some women disciples came to the tomb, he wasn’t there. In Mark, they went to anoint his body. Matthew doesn’t say that. In Mark, a young man greets the women, while Matthew state out loud that it was an angel. In Matthew, Jesus shows up in front of the scared women and says, “Greetings. Do not be afraid.” And then, he tells them to tell the brothers to meet him in Galilee where everything started. Those who heard about the resurrection of Jesus were both scared and full of joy. It is similar to how all of us Christians feel in our journey of faith. Our Christian life is full of both scary things and joy. To us, just like to the first disciples and witnesses of his resurrection, Jesus says, “Do not be afraid.” The powerful God full of empathy that we learned from the Gospel of Mark is with us. We need not be afraid. But the Easter message doesn’t end there. Jesus says, “Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”
We didn’t read the entire chapter 28 today, but, spoiler alert, before Jesus leaves his disciples physically, he gives them the Great Commissioning: “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,” and then adding, “And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
God’s Everlasting Love
The resurrection story tells us of God’s everlasting love for all God’s creation. We read about this love in Jeremiah 31. “I have loved you with an everlasting love, therefore, I have continued my faithfulness to you.” This is Jeremiah’s message to the people of Israel after their long suffering from foreign oppression. The first disciples of Jesus and disciples in all ages hear the same message of hope and empowerment from the Easter story. This is God saying to us, “Don’t be sad. Don’t despair. My love is everlasting and faithful. I will be with you always and give you strength.” This is why the Easter message is of hope; hope of renewal, healing, joy, and right relations. Jesus defeating death is a reminder that God is more powerful than any evil forces. Hopeful news indeed.
Life-Giving Lifestyle of God’s Reign
But this message of hope and joy is not the end of the Easter message. Those who receive the Easter hope and joy must get up, go out, and spread this message to all God’s people and creation. Colossians 3:2 says, “Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth, for you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.” All God’s children and siblings of Christ Jesus should set their minds on things that belong to God’s reign of compassion and justice. With the newly found hope and joy from Easter, we should go out and love God’s people with the love of God’s reign. God’s love is unconditional and full of empathy. That includes showing the marginalized and suffering that they are loved and valued, and that their needs will be met. It includes saying “No” to the oppressive system and fighting for those with no voice of their own. These are the “things that are above.”
Rejoice that death couldn’t contain Jesus. Rejoice that God tells us that we are always loved and never alone. With this Good News, let us choose to live a life worthy of God’s reign for which Jesus lived and died. Let us choose a lifestyle that gives new life to all those who suffer, whether it is our human siblings, animals, or plants. This Easter, Let us choose a life-giving lifestyle.