Believe and Live!
By Pastor Jerry Donovan
The question all people ask at different times in their lives is: what happens to us when we die? Not just what happens to our bodies, but does any part of us continue to live after our bodies have died? Is there something more? Is there an afterlife? Death is the one shared experience for all people. We will bury and mourn people we love. As we all wrestle with our own mortality, we will wonder and maybe hope there is something beyond this life.
Christians believe that in Jesus’ death and resurrection, God gave a definite answer to questions about death and life after death. We believe in life after death because Jesus rose from the dead, and the disciples bore witness to it. Later many people had sincere experiences with the risen Christ. The death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ was a way for God to speak to the deepest and most fundamental crisis for people, death! Jesus’ resurrection demonstrated his triumph over evil, hate, sin, and death. In John 14:19 Jesus says,”Because I live, you will live, too.”
That first Easter the disciples were hiding because they were afraid that they would be executed as followers of Jesus. They did not expect his resurrection from the grave. When Mary excitedly announced that Jesus had been raised, the disciples thought she was out of her mind. In John 20:21 Jesus suddenly appears among them in their hiding place saying, “Peace be with you.” His simple statement expresses what his resurrection and promise of eternal life means to us. His conquest of death, speaks to our fear and uncertainty offering his first disciples and us a calm feeling of peace that weathers even great heartbreak and pain.
Remember that it’s in the darkness that the dawn of morning light comes. It’s in the darkness that we discover the stone has already been rolled away and the love of God has been let loose in the world. It’s not very hard at all to see the darkness in the world. The darkness is ever-present and is all too real for all to many. The story we have to tell doesn’t discount the darkness, but it affirms that resurrection has the power to transform a graveyard into a garden brimming with new life. Resurrection has the power to break open tombs and tear down walls. Resurrection has the power to transform the rocky wildernesses of our hearts into instruments of grace. Resurrection has the power to show death for what it is: “the possibility for love to come again.”
The resurrection of Jesus is not the ending of the story, but the beginning of many hope-filled risings to come. We have hope because the Love of God will come, again, and again, and again, to raise us out of death. It’s just a whisper now, but if you sit in the stillness and the darkness, you can hear it calling you to rise—hope!