Easter (Day of Resurrection)

Blessed Day of Resurrection to you! Our celebration of Easter should be in full swing. Dyed eggs are pretty, candy is sweet, but far more beautiful to the believer is the risen Savior, and singing his praises is infinitely sweeter.

The Church has realized this from its beginning. The Resurrection of the Christ, Jesus of Nazareth, energized a frightened group of disciples into becoming a bold group of witnesses to his triumph over the grave. Meeting the risen Lord on the road to Damascus changed Saul the Persecutor into Paul the Apostle. And learning of him through Word and Holy Spirit has moved countless believers to write and sing joyfully.

Back around A.D. 750, John of Damascus wrote the hymn, “The Day of Resurrection”. Its first stanza says:

“The day of resurrection,
Earth, tell it out abroad,
The Passover of gladness,
The Passover of God.
From death to life eternal,
From this world to the sky,
Our Christ has brought us over
With hymns of victory.”

The connection with the Passover is more than circumstantial. The Son was sent to earth to take human flesh – to live perfectly in the stead of imperfect humanity. He carried our weaknesses in Himself, resisting temptation to depart from His chosen path. He came knowing not only that He would die on our behalf, but choosing so to do. His death came during the time of Passover in Judah, as the children of Abraham praised God for His deliverance of His people from Egypt, the land of bondage.

As the people in Jerusalem were remembering the lambs’ blood painted over their forefathers’ doors, the ultimate Passover Lamb was being prepared for the slaughter. His blood would be painted over sinful humanity, and all who believed that the death of Jesus brought the final deliverance from their sins would become heirs of new life in his resurrection from the dead.

The Passover was the defining moment in the life of the Covenant people Israel. It was God calling them out of slavery and into his family. Hundreds of years later, all of human history would reach its defining moment. God would call people out of slavery to sin and into the family of Jesus Christ.

The Passover observed at the time of Jesus looked back to the Angel of Death passing over the blood-stained doors of Israel. It remembered the Children of Israel passing over the Red Sea on dry land and the destruction of Pharaoh’s army. It recalled a faithful God’s promises to an often faithless people.

After Christ rose from the dead, God and his people of the New Covenant pointed to the fulfillment of the promise of the Passover. Christ passed over from life to death and on to life. Like Moses with his staff, so even more is Jesus and his cross. God used Moses to rescue his people from death on the shores of the sea. God used Jesus to rescue all people from eternal death in hell. Jesus leads the believers across death to life eternal in heaven. His Passover becomes ours. His resurrection is the guarantee that we too will rise to new life.

He rose, we respond. The hymn continues:

“Our hearts be pure from evil
That we may see aright
The Lord in rays eternal
Of resurrection light
And, list’ning to His accents,
May hear, so calm and plain,
His own ‘All hail!’ and hearing,
May raise the victor strain.”

The joy of knowing that Jesus is alive is translated into the joy of knowing that we are alive. We hear him cheering us on, telling us that we will make it safely to the other side.

“Joy to the world” is realized. It is your joy and mine. God grant you full measure of that joy, and the peace that surpasses understanding.