This morning during our Easter service, I shared the reflection below by Karl Vaters. I then shared some reflections of my own.
“The gospel was built on failure.
The good news started as very bad news.
It was never supposed to work. For a long time it looked like it never would.
It started with a young, pregnant, single girl in a backwater town too small to be mentioned in most ancient records.
She gave birth in a barn far away from home.
The most powerful man in the country tried to kill her baby.
Her people, the Jews, were ruled by an empire of such stunning strength and ferocity that a local governor could (and did) execute thousands on a whim.
• no idols
• no monuments
• no army
• no right to try their own capital cases
• no power
Just a book – which told them about a deliverer.
But even that hope was fading.
Into this hopeless setting came yet another traveling preacher.
He spoke like a revolutionary. But he had no home and minimal, if any, formal education outside his local synagogue.
Yet he astonished his listeners with his intellect and wisdom from a very early age.
He had the wrong kinds of friends from the wrong sorts of places, including the women he relied on for much of his financial support (Luke 8:1-3).
Not only did Jesus’ own religious establishment not support him, they openly despised and opposed him.
His most reliable followers were so unruly that he had to break up a fight almost every time he came into their presence, then scold them for lack of faith.
They were so poor they had no money to pay their taxes.
The disciples never understood what their leader was trying to do.
His own brothers didn’t believe in him.
His enemies hated each other. But they hated Jesus so much more that they joined forces to kill him.
One of his closest followers sold him for a small bag of coins – silver, not even gold.
When he needed them the most, his friends fell asleep.
When they woke up, most of them ran for the hills.
One of the few who stayed nearby swore he’d never met him. Three times.
His trial was a farce, but his torture was real.
On the cross, he hung naked and bleeding. His flesh hung in strips from his barely-recognizable body.
As he died, Jesus didn’t just feel forsaken by God, he actually was forsaken by God.
Jesus’ life, ministry and message looked like a failure.
Until the resurrection.
That changed everything.
For you. For me. For everyone.
I love Karl Vaters’ reflection. The resurrection changed everything.
What about you this morning? What does Jesus’ resurrection change for you?
Are you trying to live on your own terms?
Are you resisting God’s call on your life?
Are you letting fear and worry control you?
Are you hiding from your need for forgiveness?
Are you trapped in feelings of guilt, failure, or shame?
Are you stuck in past hurts and mistakes?
What do you think God sees when he looks at you?
What do you think God wants for you?
And how does Jesus’ resurrection help us answer these questions?
What does the empty tomb mean for you and me now?
Most importantly: Do you believe that Jesus rose from the dead?
Let me put it this way.
Roughly 2,000 years ago a dead man walked out of a tomb.
And not just any man—a man who claimed to be God in the flesh.
And because he did, we can have hope.
Because he did, we can know we’re never alone.
Because he did, our wounds can be healed.
Because he did, this life doesn’t have to bear the weight of all our dreams.
Because he did, there is more to life—to being alive—than we can ever see.
Because he did, we don’t have to invent meaning and purpose for ourselves.
Because he did, our sins can be forgiven.
Because he did, our failures don’t have to end us.
Because he did, we can have a joy this world can never provide.
Because he did, we can have peace—with ourselves, with one another, and, most importantly, with God.
Because he did, we can have everlasting life. This is never all there is.
This day—Easter Sunday—we celebrate all of this. This day we celebrate that everyone can have hope.
Do you still need to put your hope in Jesus?
Do you need to have your hope in him strengthened and renewed?
Do you still need to confess Jesus as the risen Lord?
The question is: are you willing and ready to receive the life, the hope, and peace he is waiting to give?
Because he is alive. He is here. And he can give you peace in the present and hope for the future.