He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him.
If there were no Easter, there would be no Christmas. No Savior would have been born.
If there were no Easter, there would be no reason to celebrate a birthday. Each year added to life would be but a step downward to the pit of the grave. There would be no reason to celebrate a New Year, either. Birthdays and New Year’s would still be observed. The passage of time could not be unnoticed. But the turning of the years would bring no joy.
Of course, joy can be artificially stimulated. Drugs and alcohol can do that. So can indulging in anything that gives pleasure to mind and body. The ancient phrase is, “Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die.” That is called fatalism.
If there were no Easter, our entire life would be a fatality.
If there were no Easter, everything we attempt would end up in failure. So what if we were handed a diploma; were decorated for valor; and amassed a fortune? In the end, it would mean nothing. “Meaningless! Meaningless!” Solomon concluded. “Everything is meaningless” (Ecclesiastes 1:2). If there were no Easter, that phrase would be the billboard for our life.
If there were no Easter there would be no hope. Any avoidance of pain or misfortune would only be a postponing of the inevitable disaster. For a while we might walk in sunshine, but the path would lead only to darkness. The horizon would offer no brightening of the clouds, no streaks of early dawn—only the blackness of more night.
To such a one the words of the poet are sent: “Do not go gentle into that good night. Rage, rage against the dying of the light.”
If there were no Easter, rage would be our only recourse—feeble and fruitless as it may be. The night of death would not be good. Terror would replace rage. The bars of the dungeon would be ever locked. Misery would be our eternal cellmate.
Instead, we sing out the words: “But now is Christ arisen!”
The women did not find the body of Jesus on Easter morning. The stone was rolled away. An angel with the appearance of lightning was sitting on it. “He has risen!” he announced. “Come see the place where they laid him.”
Thousands of years later, no matter where we are, no matter how old, no matter what our circumstances in life—thousands of years later we take up the invitation of the angel. Through the eyes of the Gospel writers, with words sent from heaven, we draw near to the graveyard not far from Golgotha, and we peer into the tomb.
There we see the empty grave. There we see proof that Jesus of Nazareth, true man and true God, conquered death, paid our ransom, and gave us life everlasting.
It is Easter once again—and we celebrate it!
Our hearts sing the old hymn:
He is arisen! Glorious Word! Now reconciled is God, my Lord;
The gates of heaven are open.
My Jesus did triumphant die, and Satan’s arrows broken lie,
Destroyed hell’s fiercest weapon.
Oh, hear! What cheer! Christ victorious,
Rising glorious, Life is giving.
He was dead, but now is living! Amen.
(Christian Worship 461)
Written by Rev. Paul Ziemer, WELS National Civilian Chaplain and Liaison to the Military, Belle Plaine, Minnesota.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. Note: Scripture reading footnotes are clickable only in the web version.