Summary: The Easter story tells us that 1) God keeps his promises, 2) God brings a fresh start, and 3) God speaks to those who listen.
A Fresh Start
Today over a billion people will celebrate Easter, and not just with Easter eggs and chocolate bunnies and big buffet dinners, as wonderful as all those things are. People will celebrate all over the globe the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Why all the attention for an event that happened some 2,000 years ago? Why is Easter that big of a deal? Easter is important for lots of reasons, but I thought of three that come to mind from today’s scripture. First, Easter tells us ...
1. God keeps his promises. The angel reminded the women, in verse 6, “He has risen ... just as he said.” You see, Jesus predicted his death and his resurrection. And he didn’t do this just once or twice. He spent a lot of time preparing his disciples for what would happen that first Easter weekend. Matthew was one of his disciples, and Matthew recorded for us in his gospel, in Matthew 16:21, “From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.” If nothing else, the resurrection tells us that Jesus kept his promise. Jason Emmanuel Petty puts it like this: he says, “Jesus wrote a check with his life but at the resurrection we all cheered because that means the check cleared.” A cleared check is a promise kept.
A cool verse is 2 Corinthians 1:20, which says, “For no matter how many promises God has made, they are ‘Yes’ in Christ.” For example, God promises to stay with us through thick and thin: And then Jesus Christ says, “I will be with you always.” God promises to comfort us, and Jesus says, “My peace I give to you.” God promises salvation from our sin, and scripture says, Jesus on the cross became sin on our behalf. God promises eternal life, and Jesus says, “I am the resurrection and the life,” and proves it on Easter. God always keeps his promises.
This concept can change our prayer life. In praying scripture, we can learn to ask God according to his own promises. For example, the Bible says to “bring up a child in the way he should go, and when he grows old he won’t depart from it.” Maybe your child has departed from the faith, has drifted away from the Lord and from a loving church family. You can pray this prayer and ask God to rekindle a spiritual fire in your son’s or daughter’s heart. And as you do so, you are praying according to God’s promise, because God always keeps his promises. Easter also tells us,
2. God brings a fresh start. If Jesus can rise from the dead, then nothing is too hard for God to turn around. Think about Mary Magdalene. All four gospels name her as one of the first witnesses of the risen Lord. Who was this woman who was mentioned in the Bible more than most of the disciples? We don’t know a lot about her, but we know enough to say she was an unlikely hero. First, she was a woman, which back then would have forfeited her value as a witness in court. Sure enough, if you read the rest of the story, not even Jesus’ disciples believed her when she told them she had seen the risen Lord. And then, on top of being a woman, she had a reputation. Scripture says Jesus removed seven evil spirits from her. We don’t know what that means exactly, but it suggests something sub-par in her life before meeting Jesus. Yet, he gave her a fresh start, a brand-new life.
Jesus has been in the fresh start business ever since. And there’s a strong hint in today’s story that he is quite passionate about it. Remember how the two Mary’s left the angel to tell the disciples the good news as instructed? Someone met them on the way. It was Jesus himself! It’s like he couldn’t stand the wait; he had to show up and fill their hearts with hope again! He did the same thing with the disciples. He couldn’t wait for them to arrive at Galilee. He appeared to them in Jerusalem. Jesus is passionate about fresh starts!
God keeps his promises, and God brings a fresh start. Lastly,
3. God speaks to those who listen. There were two groups of people at the empty tomb that first Easter morning: the guards and the women. The guards were terrified and shook up, to the point of death. The Bible records that, later, they recovered their composure enough to receive bribes from the Roman government, to lie and say Jesus’ body was stolen.