“On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you!’ After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord” (John 20:19-20, NIV).
This month, the Christian Church once again remembers and celebrates the great and wonderful act of God’s love: the crucifixion, death, burial, and res- urrection of Jesus, which we know as Easter. As with any event that is regularly celebrated, we can lose contact with its importance because of its familiarity. After all, we are not like the disciples who were huddled behind locked doors in fear of Jewish or Roman authorities. We know the entire story; we have been through it many times.
Despite our familiarity with this event, it still breaks into our lives fresh and new. The disciples were completely transformed after they saw the resurrected Christ and received the Holy Spirit. Their fear was replaced with the power and might of God’s conquering love. Even though they received beatings, imprisonments, and all manner of persecutions, they never retreated from proclaiming the salvation message of the resurrected Lord.
The disciples’ testimony is our testimony, too. In the face of modern skepti- cism, the historicity of the life of Jesus is firmly established in both ancient and modern studies. The event which the disciples experienced is historical reality. It happened. In this way, our celebration of Easter is like any other significant historical event. But unlike any other historical event, the impact of Easter is as real today as it was at the time that it happened. The same salvation that the disciples received and experienced is ours today. The same measure of God’s love and power that was laid upon those disciples is ours today. The same message of light, hope, and saving love that encouraged and guided their lives is ours today.
This reality is what keeps our celebration of Easter as fresh and new as if it was happening to the original disciples again. Anyone who confesses his or her sin to God and believes that the death and resurrection of Jesus paid the penalty for sin receives the same merciful forgiveness that those living in the days of the crucifixion and resurrection received. Any believer in need of renewal and revitalization receives the same joyful strength as those who were in that room at the moment when Jesus stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!”
The Bible does not call believers to live in the past. The revelation of God has always been given to people in their contemporary settings. We are no holier if we live without electricity or medicine or computers or smartphones. It is futile to establish some kind of utopian past because such things turn out to be man-made illusions anyway.
But the Bible does call believers to remember the past. We remember that sin and death were defeated by the resurrected Christ. Since they were defeated then, they are defeated now. Since they were defeated then, they are defeated for all days to come. The same joy that the disciples experienced when they saw the Lord is our joy, too. The same victory that the disciples were given by the Lord’s resurrection is our victory, too. The same divine love that saved the disciples is the same divine love that saves us, too.
Since we have celebrated it before, Easter may be a familiar event in the life of the Christian Church. But it is certainly not an event that the born-again believer takes for granted. Because Jesus lives, we live, too. May God’s Easter grace, mercy, and love fill you with the joy, peace, and victory of Jesus Christ, our Lord.
Jesus is alive!
In Christian Joy,