And with great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus.Acts 4:33
In some places, you can observe how trees or shrubs have grown out of the hard rock masses of very old fortress walls, high above the ground. They green, grow, flourish, and bear small but tasty fruits. I have sometimes contemplatively looked at these wonderful plants. – Who planted them on this steep wall? – Where do they get the strength to grow in this barren environment? And yet their branches reach for the sky. Oh, perhaps the wind carried a tiny seed into a small crack in the wall, where it settled in a little earth dust and some loose mortar. By joining with the dust, it slumbered, gave up its own life; but then it sprouted to new life. Powerfully, it burst from the narrow space and revealed its vitality in a new life. But what does this have to do with the joy of Easter?
From Easter and on, Jesus’ disciples received a whole new proclamation, never heard before. They did what the Lord had called and chosen them to do from the beginning. Now they understood the word that Jesus had said to them: “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain” (John 12:24).
Now they also received great power for their ministry to witness. The main theme of their message was the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. It was only a small group who went among the people with this new proclamation. In addition, they were people of no reputation: fishermen, tax collectors, and others. But with great power, they bore their testimony, in spite of all opposition from the secular and ecclesiastical rulers.
The power of the Risen One, the power of personal experience and conviction worked in them and drove them to share themselves with others. The disciples had gone to school with Jesus. For three years, they listened to His speeches, learned His wisdom, saw His mighty deeds, experienced His love and care in all things of this life – and then? Yes, then they went with Him to Gethsemane where He wrestled with death, where He was betrayed and arrested. Shortly thereafter, they stood on the hill of Golgotha and saw Him, whom their souls loved, crushed, reviled, mocked, and ridiculed on the cross, pale with death. They witnessed His bruised body being laid to rest in Joseph’s tomb. And their hearts threatened to break with sorrow and pain! Oh, they could not know that the cry of death on Golgotha would not be the last. They could not have known what miracle of God’s power would follow! But there, after an anxious, dark night full of deep mourning, just as the new light of day was dawning, another sound reached their ears. It was the greeting on Easter morning, a greeting from the mouth of an angel: “He is alive! He is risen!” And the news increased and spread: He is risen indeed!
Jesus did not remain in the grave. He really rose from the dead. He was rejected by men, but the Almighty God authenticated and justified our Savior before the entire world. The tomb in Joseph’s garden was empty and open. We can imagine something of the Easter joy the disciples experienced! They never said that Jesus Christ lived on in their memories only in His words and deeds. No, they saw the Risen One. It is true that people have always tried to dismiss the resurrection of the Lord Jesus as a matter of pious feelings. But it is a fact!
It is also foolish to try to understand and explain the resurrection of the Lord with the mind. It is precisely a miracle of the high hand of our God, which cannot be evaluated by human or historical standards. It is infinitely greater than anything human beings can conceive. The disciples also never tried to explain the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. This was their experience and, therefore, their testimony. Yet this great reality was the focus of all the attacks of the unbelievers and the world that was hostile to Christ from the first day it became known.
How divinely great Easter actually is can, of course, never be seen in people who are Christians in name only. But where the life of the living pulsates in a heart, there life is also proclaimed continuously. It reveals itself, becomes visible, and wants to be active. In this living testimony for Him, the true powerful joy of Easter is experienced and also expressed. “The Lord is risen!” is what resounds on Easter in the camps of the saints all over the world. Easter joy fills all of our hearts and moves our souls. Easter joy makes our hearts beat faster to joyful adoration and deep thanksgiving. It is the eternal joy of life that sounds from the Easter song of the disciples: The tomb is open, the tomb is empty! Jesus is alive!
Easter is not a feast day for historians, but for the believer who confesses that true life has appeared. Yet, the resurrection is the most wonderful and significant event in all human history: Jesus lives forever! No fact is really so great and as important as this!
However, there is only one way to the open tomb, and that is through Golgotha to where the Prince of Life emerged victorious from the tomb on Easter morning. All followers of Jesus have gone this way in spirit. They have stood on Golgotha and then on the resurrection morning at the open grave, and seen the rolled-away stone and joined in the victory song: He is alive! He is truly risen! The resurrection of Jesus Christ includes victory of life, the victory of the eternal over sin and death.
Your eternal destiny in life and in death, and mine, is included in it. Oh, how poor our life would be without the knowledge of salvation, which Easter places us in front of. How poor are all those who deny it.
Many people live superficially and thoughtlessly in this world. That is why many spiritual truths remain obscured to them, including the reality of the Lord’s resurrection and that of the dead in general. But God has given us the wonderful gift of reason and understanding above all other creatures, and we should use these in the right way. Oh, if only foolish people would keep in mind the fact that without the resurrection of Christ, they are only facing the horror of death. Must not our existence make us sadder and gloomier with every day and year that we grow older, if death and the grave were the last station of our lives?
But the fact remains: Christ is risen! He lives, and we may live with Him, because He says to us:
“I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live”. – John 11:25