When I was a child one of my favorite things to do at the school playground was the merry-go-round. We would see how many we could get on it. Then the speediest kids in school took turns pushing it around as fast as it could go. One by one people would fall off until there was only one left. The longer you were on it, the dizzier you got. You just wanted it to end. You didn’t want to fall off but neither did you want too stay on.
I think life can be like a merry-go-round. Sometimes it feels like it just goes around and around, faster and faster. You getting dizzier and dizzier until you’re either sick or you just want it to end.
I’ll bet the early followers of Jesus felt like they were on a merry-go-round after Jesus died. They thought Jesus would be king, but now He was dead. They felt like they had been thrown off the merry-go-round and didn’t know what was next. But Jesus’ death was NOT the END. He rose from the dead. And it’s not our END either.
As you read the narration of the first Easter in Matthew 28:1-10, we can discover three principles:
I love what the angel told the women – “Look at the place where He was laid.” Jesus was crucified, died, and they put Him in the tomb. But He wasn’t there anymore. In the past, Jesus was dead. But not anymore. The past does not define the present. He was dead on Friday but alive on Sunday.
What is your past? Have you hurt other people? Is your past a trail of disappointments and disastrous relationships? Do you wish you could start your life over again and treat people better and hurt loved ones less? Do you live with regret from past treatment of others?
What about the people who have hurt you? Have people treated you like merchandise or even less? Have you been tossed aside and those you love have abused and mistreated you? Are you still mistreated by people who have long gotten over their mistreatment of you?
What about what you have done to yourself? Do you feel like you are stuck in the past because of something stupid you did? Maybe others have forgiven you, maybe God has forgiven you, but you cannot forgive yourself. Has your past defined you?
The good news is that Jesus died and was laid in the grave for all the hurts you have experienced and committed. The wages of sin is death and Jesus died to pay those wages. To anyone who receives Jesus Christ as personal Savior, those sins are in the grave. Just as Jesus was no longer in the grave, your sins are no longer part of your life. They are forgiven. Don’t let you past be your end.
The soldiers shook in fear at the sight of a powerful angel at the tomb. The arriving women were afraid. But the angel’s first words were, “Fear not.” Easier said than done! When you are facing a real scary situation, you can’t just turn off the terror. But it is amazing how quickly fears subside when you realize that Jesus is alive.
What are you afraid of? While we are in this coronavirus crisis are you afraid of getting sick? Are you elderly or have a lowered immune system? Do you work in locations where the virus has been detected? Are you afraid one of your loved ones will get sick? With so many people dying, are you afraid that someone you love will die from this virus, maybe you?
Are you afraid of your finances? Have you lost your job or at least some of your income? Do the bills keep piling up faster than your money keeps coming in? Are you afraid your retirement account will be drained and you won’t have enough money to live on in your later years? How long can this go on?
Are you afraid of the unknown? We’re hearing reports from all sides and you just don’t know who to believe? You want to be positive but you just don’t know. It’s amazing how many have become medical experts. But the reality is that we just don’t know and the fear of the unknown is real. We don’t know what the next few days, weeks and months are going to be like.
But you have nothing to fear. Jesus is alive. One of my favorite Bible passages is Psalm 23:4 – “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for thou art with me…” Jesus is with us through these dark valleys we’re going through. Whatever you are afraid of, Jesus is with you. It may be dark, but Jesus will protect you and walk with you.
The angel didn’t just tell the women not to be afraid. God wasn’t just concerned about their present fear. God wanted them to know the future He had for them. The angel said, “he goeth before you into Galilee; there shall ye see him.”
They would see Jesus again. In fact, Jesus wanted to see them so bad He met them before they got out of the garden. What joy they must have experienced. They walked into the garden with sorrow expecting a dead body, but left with joy knowing that Jesus was alive and they actually talked with Him and touched Him.
If you have trusted Jesus as your Savior, your future is so good. You will see Jesus. We are different from the women. We have never seen Jesus. Yet, we have talked to Him in prayer and heard Him in His Word many times. We believe in Him but have never seen Him. But one day we will. We will see Jesus and we will do what these ladies did. We will fall on our knees in gratitude and worship for all that He has done for us.
We will also see others who have trusted Jesus Christ as Savior. Those who have died in Christ are with Him now. All those who are alive now will one day join together and we will forever be with Him. We will see our saved loved ones again. For some, it has been a few weeks or months and the pain of the loss is fresh. For others, it has been years, maybe most of our life. Though we have been able to go on with our life we still miss them. It still seem like yesterday when we talked with them. But because of the empty tomb, we will see them again.
In February of 2007 I went to the mailbox and pulled out a letter addressed to me from my mom. The only problem is that my mom died the previous summer. I thought my brother was pulling a joke on me. But when I opened it there was a personal letter and a check for $100 – written by my mom. I showed it to my wife and we just couldn’t figure out what was going on. I knew that my mom died but how did she send me a letter? It was then that I noticed the date stamp. February 2005. My mom had sent the letter two years before and somehow it got lost in the post office and finally delivered to me. I figured it out logically, but I think God set this all up. I never got to say goodbye to my mom. I never heard her say how much she loved me as she was dying like so many others have heard – like I heard from my dad when he was dying of cancer. But the last word I ever got from my mom was – “Love, Mother.” And I know that my mom isn’t dead anymore because she had trusted Jesus as Savior. She is alive. I will see her again and I will see Jesus again. Will you?
This is not the end. Today could be your beginning by receiving Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior.