GRANDVILLE, MI – I’ll never forget that Saturday night. It was a night filled with great anticipation. The next day was our first vision-casting meeting at the church I was planting. As expected, there were a few last errands to run, so off I went to the store. I did my shopping, got in my car to go home, and then it happened. Smack! Head on. Airbags deployed. Knocked out. Car totaled. Later that night, when I finally came to in the ambulance, an officer said, “Man, you were out of it!”
As I approach another busy Easter season, I wonder if I will find myself in that same spot. Not in another car accident, but being “out of it,” experiencing a head on crash with Easter busyness, only to “wake up” later having missed the celebration. Here is my fear this Easter (or for any day), that all I have to do would suffocate my joy in what Jesus has done.
So what is the remedy for the pastor, parent or person who is gasping for joy amidst the stranglehold of busyness? The answer is not found in remembering all I have to do, but in remembering all that Jesus has done. Joy is found as I rehearse the Gospel. May we breathe, over and over, deep breaths of joyful wonder of that first, glorious Easter morning.
Place yourself there, side by side with Mary and Mary Magdalene (Matthew 28). It was over. Jesus died. It was a long, emotional weekend. No tears left to cry. Walk with them brokenhearted towards the tomb on that brisk Sunday morning. Weep with them in extreme sadness as you hopelessly approach Jesus’ grave. Stop in disbelief as you see an open tomb and hear the angels announcement, “He is not here, He has risen.” Allow this breaking news to make your heart beat a little faster as your sorrow gives way to a ray of hope! Imagine peering in to the tomb, your eyes slowly adjusting to the deep darkness. Feel the change of temperature as you now enter the damp, dark, cold grave. Gasp with them in shock at the realization that Jesus’ body is gone. Lean in with them to place your hand on Jesus’ folded burial cloth. Notice that the once dried up tears are beginning to flood your eyes again. No longer tears of sadness, but ones of hopeful anticipation!
And then it happens. Smack! Head on. Out of nowhere. Instantly you remember His words. No, not the angels’ words, Jesus’ words — “After three days I will rise.” It clicks! Yes, He IS alive! But where? The angel announces, “Galilee!”
Right now both Mary’s have a choice to make. We all have a choice to make. Do I stay in the tomb or run to Jesus? One option grovels amidst the things of death, and the other runs to embrace the Giver of Life. This is the choice I must make every moment of every day. Do I live in light of the reality of the resurrection or not? Do I run in glad and joyful surrender to my Savior, or do I continue wiping my tears with the useless burial clothes in the grave?
The reality that our Savior is alive, has conquered sin, and left the tomb makes it possible for us to leave the tomb. Like Mary and Mary Magdalene, may we joyfully run to embrace Jesus (Matthew 28:8)! Because Jesus left the grave behind, we must leave the grave behind. This is our new life of joy that is only available through Jesus’ resurrection. What a joyous Easter morning!
After my accident, I went home from the hospital with a sore knee, a number of cuts and bruises, and a pretty bad headache. I’ll never forget the response of my eight-year-old son that next morning. He said, “Daddy, looks like God is giving you another day to talk about Jesus!” Instantly, tears filled my eyes and joy filled my heart. My son was right. God has graciously given me another busy day, and another Easter, to joyfully talk about the joy that is only found in Jesus! Will you do the same?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Matt Thompson is a Church planter in West Michigan and a Church Planting Catalyst with the Send Network. He helped launch Redemption Church Grandville four years ago and is now being sent from there to plant Redemption Church Grand Rapids, launching April 14, 2019. Matt has been married to his wife Bethany for 13 years and they have three boys: Caden, Brennen and Aaron.