It's all about trust
Easter is here! Alleluia! Christ has risen!
Jesus has defeated death. He left his grave clothes in the tomb. He kicked death in the teeth and gloriously rose to eternal life.
Easter is a great day… a wonderful day! Our Lord's resurrection has been continuously celebrated for 2,000 years and over that time people have sought to honor and celebrate it in many different ways.
For instance, did you know that there was a time in Massachusetts when people could not ride the Boston and Maine Railroad on Easter unless they could prove to the conductor that they were making the trip to attend Easter worship services? Or that when they installed the New York City subway, people boycotted it because the trains ran on Easter?
Throughout history people have acknowledged that the resurrection of our Lord and Savior was an extraordinary event, one that should be celebrated. But let's ask ourselves this: What does our Lord's resurrection mean to you and me, here and now?
How does believing in the bodily resurrection of Jesus help us when we face the troubles of daily life? When our neighbor always wants to argue over where their property ends and ours begins? How does the resurrection of Jesus make a difference in our successes and failures — at work or in school, in our relationships with family and friends?
We all have painful, hurting, fearful experiences in this life. Perhaps it's a medical emergency or the loss of a job, a devastating breakup, a near miss on the freeway. We sit quietly by ourselves and ask, Why am I here on this earth? Who am I? What defines me? What's going to happen to me after I take my last breath? How does our Lord's resurrection make a difference in our lives?
God's word tells us that it's about trusting — trusting the promises of God, promises made sure and made real by Jesus' resurrection. We trust that through faith in Jesus as our Lord and Savior we have reconciliation with God; we are no longer estranged from him. We trust that through that relationship we have forgiveness and eternal life.
Trusting in Jesus and making Him our first priority makes all the difference in the world. It makes all the difference in how we deal with family and friends and all the difference in how we live our lives.
This is what we experience when the Holy Spirit opens our eyes to the fact that the bodily resurrection of Jesus guarantees our freedom from sin and death. But precisely what does that mean? Christ's resurrection not only proves that he is God, but it also tells us that by his great sacrifice on the cross, Jesus took all of the guilt and punishment for our sins to the grave with him — and he left it there.
We are free of them — the guilt and punishment, the shame and the penalties of sin. The forgiveness that we all have in Christ was proclaimed to the whole world by our Lord's resurrection on that first Easter.
We are also free from death. Because Jesus was resurrected, so too all of us who believe will be resurrected into eternal life with our Lord and Savior. In 2 Corinthians 5:17 Paul tells us that we are a new creation in Christ. We now have an intimate relationship with God… and eternal life.
All of these blessings were proclaimed safe, sure and secure by our Lord's resurrection on that first Easter morning. That's what it means for you and me, here and now.
Mike Frankowiak is pastor of the First Lutheran Church, 850 Cooper Ave., Yuba City. Message of the Week appears on Saturdays.