Easter Sunday must be the most positive day of the year on my Facebook & Twitter feeds. I love that. So many affirmations of hope, victory, and resurrection life (and a lot of spiffy family pics).
Of everything that made me smile or nod or rejoice, this tweet was my favorite:
The ridiculousness of confining God! The futility of boxing in the First and the Last!
Who would attempt that?
Immediately I have 2 circumstances replay themselves out in my mind.
Yeah. that. and that.
So when a few men decided to ensure the confinement of the Creator of the universe, here’s what happened:
The next day, the one after Preparation Day, the chief priests and the Pharisees went to Pilate. “Sir,” they said, “we remember that while he was still alive that deceiver said, ‘After three days I will rise again.’ So give the order for the tomb to be made secure until the third day. Otherwise, his disciples may come and steal the body and tell the people that he has been raised from the dead. This last deception will be worse than the first.”
“Take a guard,” Pilate answered. “Go, make the tomb as secure as you know how.” So they went and made the tomb secure by putting a seal on the stone and posting the guard (Matthew 27: 62-66).
As evidenced by archeology and references throughout the Old Testament (Genesis 38; Exodus 28; 1 Kings 21; Nehemiah 9; Esther 3 & 8, etc…), a seal was used to represent authority.
Seals were made of wax which was melted and impressed with an identifying mark, typically borne on a signet ring. Closed doors (or tombs) were often sealed to prevent the entrance of an unauthorized person. In the story of Daniel and the lions, the door of the den was secured with the king’s seal (Daniel 6:17).
In the two circumstances that popped into my mind, I remembered the words that came to me from authorized people. And I visually pictured them putting their seal upon the closed doors of my long-cherished dreams:
“Given your psychological history, I suggest that you not pursue the adoption application any further …”
“Given the fact that all hospital chaplains must be ordained, I suggest that you move to another denomination.”
My dreams have been entombed. I feel a bare inkling of what the disciples must have felt on that darkest Saturday.
What can I do? Where can I go?
Where is God?
Oh. That’s right. My doubt and disillusionment are imprinted upon that sealed tomb. Some person in authority has pressed all potential out of me and my deepest hopes. I have boxed God into reasoning that seems logical, realistic, explainable. And human.
It is finished.
And yet, I wonder …
Do you think the enemy of our souls breathed a sigh of relief when Jesus uttered those words on Good Friday?
Any delight on his part was as short-lived as his demise is eternal.
Because “It is finished” means something entirely different in view of Sunday morning.
Scripture plainly tells us: “If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins … If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.”
On Resurrection Day, followers of the Risen Christ celebrate the most critical foundation of our faith: Our hope is not for this life only!
Hope. Security. Joy. Redemption. Freedom. Future.
Have only begun.
When Jesus arose on Sunday morning, He released our freedom to hope. The hope of Christ is so much more than wishful thinking. It is the deepest, most secure and settled reason for living – and living in view of eternity. I long for my dreams to remain alive. But because Jesus lives, He releases in me a capacity to discover in Him more than I could ever desire, ask, or imagine.
And when Jesus arose on Sunday morning, He proved Himself to be the final authority. History tells us that many people were crucified. But Jesus died in such a way that even His opponents had to admit that His was a noble, even divine, death.
(They hadn’t seen anything yet!)
Glorious Day! One – only One – resurrected!
From life’s first cry to final breath, Jesus commands my destiny.
Jesus is the Authority. If He chooses, He can command these dreams of mine to be unsealed. Perhaps that’s not His plan. But I have entrusted Him with my very life and eternity; and if that faith is to be authentic, it must include every desire and dream of my heart while I wait in the here and now.
If God wants something to come to pass, it will be.
“The LORD of Heaven’s Armies has spoken–who can change His plans? When His hand is raised, who can stop Him?” (Isaiah 14:27)
My doubt can’t stop Him.
My fear can’t stop Him.
The wisdom and reasoning of this world can’t stop Him.
The headaches and heartaches of Easter Monday can’t stop Him.
And if God chooses for something not to come to pass, that will be better.
As I remember these three days – Good Friday to Resurrection Sunday – I have everything I need to know. Jesus has demonstrated His love. He has proven His power. Everything that comes to pass – or not – in my life is consistent with these truths.
Friends, we are free to hope.
The sealed-off dreams can be trusted to the power of the unrestrained Savior.
Seeming dead-ends can be trusted to the One who defeated death.
The empty places of the heart can be filled with the promise of the empty tomb.
Lord Jesus, please impress upon my life what You will … Seal in those desires in Me that reflect You and Your purest, most perfect plan for my life. Break loose those areas where I have been discouraged and defeated. Where I have boxed you in, I pray for a resurrection of faith in my heart. I thank You that You have sealed my soul for forever, and there is nothing that matters more. That’s the hope that gets me up on Monday morning. Please imprint eternity in my heart so that every motive, every longing, and every ambition would be aligned with Your Kingdom purposes.
Amen … Let it be.
Beautiful words from Ann Voskamp on “The Truth You’ve Got to Know About After Easter:”
“What’s been wearing death clothes in a life can get up and walk, what we’ve felt as wounds, by His wounds, are being healed, what’s being burnt to ashes will birth beauty. Ashes are always the papery birth announcement of beauty rising.
Us bound in that sin that’s always been, us with that heartbreak that just won’t take a break, us who feel locked up in these patterns and someone’s thrown away the key — we’re the people who’ve seen that the stone’s been rolled away.
We’re the Resurrection People who push back against the dark of impossible, because we’ve seen the impossible stone’s been pushed back against the dark. We’re the Resurrection People who walk in strong hope because we’ve seen the strong stones moved and Hope come right out to meet us and move us.
He is Risen indeed – because I want Him to be risen in me.”