Summary: And it is in the resurrection of Jesus Christ of that first Easter morning that we receive the presence of God’s love in our hearts. While the Cross reflects God’s love to us… the resurrection makes God’s love real to us… As He hung on the Cross he said,
The Beauty of New Life John 20: 1-18 (Year C Easter Sunday)
A couple of years ago I heard a story of a boy named Jeremy. He was born with a twisted body, a slow mind and a chronic, terminal illness that had been slowly killing him all his young life.
One Sunday morning in early Spring Jeremy’s Sunday school teacher told the children the story of Jesus, and then to emphasize the idea of new life springing forth, she gave each of the children a large plastic egg. "Now," she said to them "I want you to take this home and bring it back tomorrow with something inside that shows new life. Do you understand?"
The next Sunday morning, 19 children came to Sunday school, laughing and talking and gathered around Ms. Miller as she opened each one to see what was inside. In the first egg, there was a flower. "Oh yes, a flower is certainly a sign of new life.
When plants peek through the ground we know that spring is here. "A small girl in the first row waved her arms.”That’s my egg, Miss Miller," she called out. The next egg contained a plastic butterfly, which looked very real. Ms. Miller held it up. "We all know that a caterpillar changes and turns into a beautiful butterfly. Yes, that is new life, too" little Judy smiled proudly and said, "Miss Miller, that one is mine."
Another egg had a rock with moss on it.; the moss, too, showed life. Billy spoke up from the back of the classroom. "My daddy helped me!" He beamed. Then Ms. Miller opened the fourth egg. She gasped. The egg was empty! Surely it must be Jeremy’s, she thought, and, of course, he did not understand her instructions. She thought to herself, “Perhaps I should’ve phoned his parents.” Because she did not want to embarrass him, she quietly set the egg aside and reached for another.
Suddenly Jeremy spoke up. "Miss Miller, aren’t you going to talk about my egg?" Flustered, she replied, "but Jeremy – your egg is empty!" He looked into her eyes and said softly, "yes, but Jesus’ tomb was empty and I have new life because of it!"
Three months later Jeremy died. Those who paid their respects at the mortuary were surprised to see that 19 children had placed plastic eggs on top of his casket, all of them empty.
Today we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ… We rejoice in the new life that is available to us because of an empty tomb. Two days ago the Christian world remembered the suffering of Jesus. We looked back at the injustice and misery of the Cross.
Imagine the only sinless and blameless person ever to walk the face of the earth… scorned, mocked, persecuted, and betrayed… At once the teacher of mercy became the man of many sorrows spoken of by the prophet Isaiah, “He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.”
At the Cross of Christ we see the fullness of the expression of God’s grace and mercy as Jesus… a sinless and blameless man… the Son of God… lays down his life … 1 John 3:16 says, “By this we know love that he laid down his life for us.”
The cross is like a mirror which reflects the love of God toward all of humanity. Christ’s work on the cross is a reflection of God’s immense love and the intensity and wideness of the compassion of Christ.
I grew up in North Central California only a couple hours drive away from Yosemite National Park. Yosemite is in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. It is a natural treasure, filled with rivers and streams, immense mountains, flowing meadows filled with trout, wildlife of every kind, and huge towering rocks.
As a kid my family routinely camped in and around Yosemite. My favorite place in Yosemite is Mirror Lake. In the early days of photography Mirror Lake was made famous by the father of landscape photography, Ansel Adams. As you look into Mirror Lake you see the most wonderful reflection of a colossal mountain, Mt. Watkins, perfectly reflected in the crystal clear water.
At the Cross, the mountainous mercy of God is reflected in just the same way. The Cross is a mirror reflection of the radical love and boundless grace of God.
You see, we are not, in fact, “sinners in the hands of an angry God”… we are “children in the warm embrace of a loving Father.” The cross is at once a beautiful reflection of the love of our Heavenly Father and a place of sorrow where our King demonstrated His love for us… and our need for him…