Last Sunday we heard the joyful cries "Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!" as Jesus was welcomed into Jerusalem. On Good Friday we heard the murderous cries “Crucify him!” On this Easter Day our cry must be:
“Alleluia Christ is risen, he is risen indeed, Alleluia, Alleluia”.
Jesus Christ is risen today, Alleluia!
Our triumphant holy day, Alleluia!
Who did once upon the Cross Alleluia!
Suffer to redeem our loss. Alleluia! (Lyra Davidica)
Jesus’ resurrection from the dead is beyond our experience and understanding. It can’t happen. There have been many attempts to explain the resurrection within the limits of human reason and understanding. But I don’t believe that any of the alternative explanations work, and they all deny the power of God. The fact that it is beyond human understanding does not mean that it is not possible. Those words of the Angel Gabriel to Mary – ‘nothing is impossible with God’, words which are repeated by Jesus. The facts are: Jesus died on the Cross on Good Friday and Jesus rose from the dead on Easter Day.
This is the Good News of the Christian faith which we especially celebrate today, but also every Sunday, and indeed every day of our life. The meaning of the word Gospel is ‘good news’ translated from the Greek euangelion (in Welsh Efengyl). All other news pales in to insignificance. Heaven knows that we need good news, and so let us be reminded today of the Good News of Easter, and accept it in to our mind and heart. The Good News that transforms our life.
So why is this Good News? Put very simplistically, if Jesus did not rise from the dead then our own death in this life is the end of our journey. But the fact that Jesus rose from the dead means that the death of our body in this life is not the end of the story. It means that by the love, grace and mercy of God each one of us share in the sure and certain hope of everlasting life with our Creator, because Jesus has proved that the death of the body is not the end.
It is this truth that enables the Church at each funeral service to speak of joy, even at the saddest and most tragic of times. Because Jesus rose from the dead we are Christians, and we celebrate today almost 2000 years later with the same joy as the eye witnesses on that first Easter day.
Think of the times of hardship the world has encountered over those 2000 years. Bishop Rowan Williams’ writes in Luminaries: Twenty lives that illuminate the Christian way:
“And a great deal of what Jesus taught was about how to live through the end of the world, when all that you consider to be familiar, controllable and reliable disappears.”
Reading those words made me think about our testing times in the context of the terrible situations that have arisen throughout history.
Yet the Good News has always been good news, it is good news and always will be good news. Jesus has fulfilled God’s promises in the Old Testament, and we live in a new age as we look forward to the fulfilment of Jesus’ promises. We know that God does not leave us desolate and is with us through thick and thin, that we can put all our trust in him, all our hope on him. We know that he will come again in power and glory when the kingdom of heaven is finally and gloriously established.
‘Alleluia’ means joyful praise to God. We have reason to be very joyful today notwithstanding everything else going on. We have Good News! Hold fast to the Good News as “all that you consider to be familiar, controllable and reliable disappears.” The unchanging God is with us always.
I offer this prayer:
Lord of all life and power, who through the mighty resurrection of your Son overcame the old order of sin and death to make all things new in him: grant that we being dead to sin and alive to you in Jesus Christ, may reign with him in glory; and so be praise and honour, glory and might to you, now and in all eternity. Amen.
God who rose our Lord Jesus from the dead bless you. Amen.