It isn’t Easter anymore, so I’m sure this doesn’t make the most “on time” post entry, but it is one that I simply have to share. I spent last week making service arrangements for my mother, who passed from this world just in time to meet the Lord on Resurrection Sunday. She was in the same home she lived in for the past 20+ years when she took her last breath, surrounded by her family. I remember at the time that my dad asked if we would like to sing. So we began to sing…and somewhere in the middle of our rendition of “Great is Thy Faithfulness”, she slipped away from this world and into the arms of Jesus.
My mother was a woman who lived a life of sacrificial love, wanting nothing more than to honor God and see her family happy and healthy. She had a humility that always acknowledged God’s will and loved the old hymns of the faith. I think I will always remember her anytime I hear the Halleujah chorus from Handel’s “Messiah”. (My dad made a scratchy recording of it on, yes – a cassette tape that she played literally dozens of times. 🙂 ) She was God’s constant blessing in my life growing up, not to mention the many years she stood by me through illnesses, apartment moves, and getting ready for any big occasion. She taught me how to be kind, how to be hospitable and to always finish any job I start. I didn’t inherit her artistic talent, but people tell me I’m a spittin’ image of her, and that is good. She was always ready with a meal, lived to care for my dad, and was never happier than when we were all together at the dinner table. She had a simple yet strong faith that loved and held on to God.
I can’t begin to imagine what she sees and knows right now. I do know one thing, though. She is praising God more than the greatest enthrallment in praise we have ever had on Earth…and she sees Christ face to face. She is laughing, greeting her siblings that have gone before, and will never shed a tear in pain again.
The timing could not have been more bittersweet or surreal, because it was on the first “Easter” that Christ took that same journey into the grave and eternity many years ago. He too, died and was buried. But there is a big difference – He is deity and physically rose from the grave.
“But the angel answered and said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for He is risen, as He said…” (Matthew 28:5-6).
No one but deity could have risen from the dead, and no one but deity could have lived a sinless life. Jesus did both. Not only that, but He laid down that life as a perfect sacrifice, so that anyone who trusts in Him can also approach God with no fear of condemnation.
“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath through Him.” (Romans 5:9-10)
It is because of Christ’s resurrection that we could look at my mother, who was a believer, and know that Jesus paved her way to eternal life. Because He rose from the grave, she too has risen spiritually into eternal life.
Check out Romans 6:5-6:
“Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection.”
As we saw her slip away, the meaning of Easter was no longer a reality in an I-believe-and-profess kind of way, but now became a true-to-life-played-out-before-our-eyes reality. This is where the rubber meets the road, friends. We couldn’t sing “Morning by morning new mercies I see” without remembering the greatest mercy of His rising that first morning. We are saddened, but not without comfort. While we grieve, we are not in despair. What better way to understand the significance of Easter – the resurrection of Christ, than when we need the grace of His resurrection the most?
Let’s not forget the lyrics of the rest of that song:
Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth,
Thy own dear presence to cheer and to guide;
Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow,
Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside!
This is the meaning of Easter, folks. So I’ll go ahead and say it…let’s not dilute this holy event with the silliness of Easter eggs and a bunny!
The fact that a holy God would choose to show Himself merciful to save you and I is an unfathomable mystery. Even the angels can’t understand it. (1 Peter 1:12). For that I believe that there is continual praise in heaven, a holiday every day, so to speak. (Rev. 4:8)
So while we formally celebrated Easter a couple of weeks ago, I believe this is cause for continual praise on earth as well…so maybe this message isn’t so “not on time” after all.
I’ll leave you with His own words as the parting question: “… I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25-26)