Life Will Triumph
The story of Jesus' death and resurrection reveals the link between despair and hope. However tragic things may appear, the end of the story remains the same—life will finally triumph.
Holy Week is the last week of the Lenten season. Beginning with our Palm Sunday Celebration, and through the various activities of the week, believers worldwide recall and reenact the story of Jesus of Nazareth—his trial, suffering, and death which occurred so many centuries ago in Jerusalem. The ancient church began a series of solemn services beginning Thursday evening of Holy Week and ending Saturday night with a great solemn vigil. These three days (Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday) today are called the Paschal Triduum [i.e., the Three Great Days], and are the most revered days of the entire Church year. In them we come to grips with the destiny of humankind, the promise of redemption for a lost world, and the love of the Father divine.
These days of remembrance and sorrow are not, however, the end of the story. The exclamation “Christ is risen! He is risen, indeed!” is as old as the Church itself. It testifies to the central conviction of Jesus followers worldwide as to Jesus' victory over the grave in his bodily resurrection from the dead. As Scripture prophesied and Jesus foresaw, our Lord suffered on the Tree bearing our sins in his body and overcoming the guilt and power of the grave and the curse. Yet, on the third day he rose triumphant from the grave, and is now alive forever. His resurrection serves as the pinnacle of all Christian belief and is the ground for our hope of salvation. Jesus is no longer in the tomb, but lives to save his own!
The apostles taught that the resurrection of Jesus represented the central doctrine of the Christian faith. Paul argued that if the resurrection proved false, then Jesus was still a corpse, the apostolic preaching was worthless, and the faith of Christ followers was futile (1 Cor. 15.12-15). The fact remains, Jesus of Nazareth is alive and Lord of all. He did not merely teach about the resurrection; rather, he claimed to be the Resurrection and the Life (John 11.25-26)! He lives, and is himself the beginning of a new humankind, the first fruits of a harvest where all believers will share his glory (1 Cor. 15.20). This truth, that Jesus rose on the third day, is the centerpiece of the church's worship, identity, and community. He will be with us to the end of this age (Matt. 28.20), and all who believe in him embrace that "blessed hope," the overwhelming confidence that Jesus will return and complete the work for creation that he accomplished through his death, on the Cross (Titus 2.11-14).
The story of Jesus shows that despite how things may appear on Good Friday, Easter is always close by. However tragic, however bleak the situation may be, God has not forgotten his promise. In light of that, I think that we ought to extend the use of the word "Easter," treating it as a verb: "Things are bleak now, but they will soon Easter up in our favor!" God has the final word, and it is never "death." Indeed, his story reveals that heaven's last word is and will always be "life"—and that, forever more.