Easter Sunday is a cheerful day on social media feeds, with affirmations of hope, victory, and resurrection life (and spiffy family photos).
Of everything that made me smile or rejoice on Easter Sunday, this tweet was my favorite:
When a few men tried to confine the Creator of the universe, here’s what happened:
The next day, the one after Preparation Day, the chief priests and the Pharisees went to Pilate. “Sir,” they said, “we remember that while he was still alive that deceiver said, ‘After three days I will rise again.’ So give the order for the tomb to be made secure until the third day. Otherwise, his disciples may come and steal the body and tell the people that he has been raised from the dead. This last deception will be worse than the first.”
“Take a guard,” Pilate answered. “Go, make the tomb as secure as you can.” So they went and made the tomb secure by putting a seal on the stone and posting the guard (Matthew 27: 62-66).
Obviously we grasp what the Pharisees and Pilate didn’t. The ridiculousness, the futility of confining the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last!
But as I scoff at them, I recognize myself …
I think about dreams which I once cherished and vulnerably placed before people in authority, those who had power to bless or deny. Each “no” felt as if a door slammed shut, with a stone set into place and stamped:
Forget it. Move on.
And each time I believed it, feeling a bare inkling of what the disciples must have felt on that in-between Saturday.
Has this been for nothing?
It is finished.
But in view of Sunday morning, we understand that Good Friday – when Jesus uttered “It is finished” – wasn’t the end. Yes, it was the culmination of His unjust, brutal suffering. Yet Jesus’ statement meant so much more. With mere hours remaining before His arrest, Jesus prayed to the Father with the conviction of “having finished the work You have given me to do” (John 17:4). Only God in the flesh could cancel mankind’s debt of sin. The Greek word translated “it is finished” is tetelestai, meaning “paid in full.”
Despite Pilate’s protective measures, a stone and a seal could not hold Jesus in the tomb. As Jesus’ death means access, a new and living way of salvation, His triumph over death means authority. By being raised from the dead Christ proved to be the mighty Son of God (Romans 1:4).
The enemy must have rejoiced at Friday’s “It is finished.” But on Sunday the tables were turned, and Satan’s delight was as short-lived as his demise is eternal. Jesus’ resurrection secured everlasting hope for those who trust in Him.
The resurrection is our Easter rejoicing. Even as early as Monday morning, however, I must ask myself if the resurrection anchors my everyday reality. How will I respond to rejections, broken dreams, brokenness in myself? If I confine hope to what seems reasonable, humanly possible, and hedged against disappointment, I have nothing more than wishful thinking.
But Easter as an everyday reality breaks wide open the confines of situational hope.
“We are the Resurrection People who know that hope can rise from dead places … Us bound in that sin that’s always been, us with that heartbreak that just won’t take a break, us who feel locked up in these patterns and someone’s thrown away the key — we’re the people who’ve seen that the stone’s been rolled away … We’re the Resurrection People who walk in strong hope because we’ve seen the strong stones moved and Hope come right out to meet us and move us.” Ann Voskamp
Good Friday to Resurrection Sunday shows us that Jesus has demonstrated His love and proven His power. Everything that comes to pass – or not – in life is consistent with these truths, and that’s why I’m learning to trust Him on Easter Monday and beyond.
“Rest is found, not in understanding your life, but in trusting the One who reigns over all the things you didn’t plan and don’t understand.” ~ Paul David Tripp
If our dreams have seemingly died, God is able to revive them. And if that’s not His intention, He can redeem our disappointments and set our hearts toward a path where opportunities – more than we could ask or imagine – await.
Of course now I give thanks that I didn’t marry my high school boyfriend … But I look back more recently to broken dreams that I don’t yet understand. Not yet having the kind of perspective that hindsight offers teaches me acceptance – not necessarily in the situation itself but in my Father’s sovereignty and strengthens my trust – not necessarily in the circumstance itself but in my Father’s character.
And even as my soul tremors from time to time with disappointments, I’m anchored in His love which ultimately secures and satisfies me.
Sealed-shut dreams and seeming dead-ends can be trusted to the One who defeated death.
The empty places of the heart can be filled with the hope of the empty tomb.
Lord Jesus, seal in desires in me that reflect Your purest, most perfect plan for my life. Help me to trust that You have given me Yourself – how much more will You freely give what is good? Thank you for Your wisdom, with love, to ordain what is truly good for me. Break loose those areas where I have been discouraged and defeated. Where I have boxed you in, I pray for a resurrection of faith in my heart. I thank You that You have sealed my soul forever in Christ, and there is nothing that matters more.
Beautiful words from Ann Voskamp on “The Truth You’ve Got to Know About After Easter:”
“What’s been wearing death clothes in a life can get up and walk, what we’ve felt as wounds, by His wounds, are being healed, what’s being burnt to ashes will birth beauty. He is Risen indeed – because I want Him to be risen in me.”
Psalm 138:8 – The Lord fulfills His purpose for me.
Philippians 1:6 – I am confident of this – He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the Day of Christ Jesus.
Psalm 57:2 – I cry out to God, to God Most High who fulfills His purpose for me.
Job 42:2 – No purpose of God’s can be thwarted.
Romans 8: 28 – 32 – And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose. For those God foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And those He predestined, He also called; those He called, He also justified; those He justified, He also glorified. What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave Him up for us all—how will He not also, along with Him, graciously give us all things?