The Easter message is about new life and hope for new beginnings. The season of spring brings a welcome change from the cold to warmer weather. This new beginning gives hope for what the time ahead holds, and it provides opportunities for more outdoor activities like gardening.
Just as spring provides such hope and opportunities, Easter provides the promise of a rich and new life in Christ. This has been the gospel message for more than 2,000 years. After the death of Jesus, all who had been with him or knew of him wondered what the future held for them. They could not fathom what life would be like without him.
In John’s gospel, we are told that Mary Magdalene went to the tomb, only to discover that the stone had been removed from the entrance. She did not go in, but ran and told Peter and John, who went to the tomb to find that the body of Jesus was not there. It was on seeing the empty tomb that they came to believe that Jesus had risen from the dead, as he had told them he would. Mary, on the other hand was so distraught that she remained there weeping. She did not recognize Jesus at first, until a very familiar voice said to her, “Mary.” She was commissioned to go and tell the disciples that he was alive. It was Mary who first broke the news to the disciples that she had seen the risen Lord.
One may imagine how that news was received by the close friends of Jesus. According to John’s gospel, the disciples remained locked in a room until Jesus made his first appearance to them. In that meeting, Jesus offered them peace and breathed his spirit upon them, as he commissioned them for future ministry. I believe that was a moment of transformation, joy and a real reason to hope and not be afraid anymore.
In our lives, there are many things that can happen that can break our spirit or make us want to give up. Fear, hopelessness, despair and despondency can easily beset us amid loss, brokenness, betrayal, illness or the death of someone close to us. There can be an emptiness, maybe like that which the disciples experienced when Christ was crucified. Until something happens that reverses those feelings, we may remain doubtful, fearful or even paralyzed.
In the gospel stories, those who met the risen Christ all experienced change in their lives. Christ was alive and offered peace and hope to them. They were offered new beginnings, just like at springtime. Our Lord’s resurrection meant overcoming sin and death. Therefore, every human flaw may be corrected, weakness overcome, and we can be redeemed. Easter offers the assurance that we can overcome the many obstacles, difficulties and challenges that life presents, from time to time. We live in a world that at times is cruel, uncaring, unforgiving, and seemingly void of hope or second chances. The risen Christ makes possible for all of us to have second chances, new beginnings, new life and hope.
Sometimes our behaviours are not consistent with our values, healthy lifestyles or of showing neighbourliness, love and respect for others. Jesus loves and values each and every one of us, even with our faults and shortcomings. He offered to those who offended and hurt him, as he does to us, forgiveness, new life and hope for the future. There is healing and hope to be experienced in Him who came that we might have life in all its fullness. Jesus says to us as he said to the women who went to the empty tomb and to the frightened disciples in the locked room, “Do not be afraid” and “Shalom-Peace.” We are encouraged not to be afraid because of the loss of a job, the death of a loved one, a pending surgery, a meeting with someone with whom you are seeking reconciliation, a difficult decision to be made or a new venture to be started. Jesus offers hope and guidance in all situations, through the power of his spirit.
The Good News is that Jesus is going before us every day and promises to be with us, always. We have the opportunity of a second chance, being forgiven and being reconciled with another. Let us grasp every opportunity to experience new beginnings in the name of Him who is alive and reigns forever. Christ is alive! Alleluia! Have a blessed and happy Easter.