My heart is very joyful this Easter season. I suppose the beautiful warm spring weather we’ve been having helps. It has brought out the crocus and daffodils en masse. April is my favorite month anyway, I think.
But I am very aware this year that it is not just annual spring time euphoria that I feel. It is a response in me first to the story of Jesus’ resurrection itself. As I studied for the second of the Easter morning messages and looked at the response of the disciples to the Good News that Jesus was alive, I noted their amazement, their joy and their adoring worship (see Apr. 4 10 a.m. sermon) and I began to respond in those ways myself. The homiletics teachers always said that God has to work on the preacher first if there is going to be any chance that the message will be received by the congregation. I sensed that happening.
I asked the congregation Easter morning, “What blessings have come to you from Jesus that bring you joy? I want to answer that for myself. I owe so much to Jesus. Here’s a few ideas that came to me. I hope it prods your thinking too.
- Because of his grace I do not have to be burdened with guilt for sins. He has forgiven me.
- Because of his love I know I am adopted into God’s family.
- His Word teaches me humility, kindness, faithfulness and other attitudes and responses that help me in relationships. I continue to learn to love and understand others as I learn of God’s love for me.
- Because of Jesus’ resurrection, I have the hope of seeing deceased loved ones again who are also “in Christ” (1 Thess. 4:17, 18).
- Because the power of the resurrection is at work in our daily lives, I am sure that God is at work (Rom. 8:28; John 5:17) even when I cannot sense it.
- Because in his resurrection, Jesus has shown himself to be the ultimate victor, I know that by trusting in him I can be victorious over temptations (1 Cor. 10:13; 2 Cor. 2:14). When I slip, it’s because I did not avail myself of God’s strength, or stubbornly did it my way anyway. I could have been victorious.
- Because of God’s power at work in me, I am expectant, hopeful and optimistic.
- And in my case, because this resurrection hope has been defining our family for at least three generations on both sides, it has the added strength of family heritage, Christian traditions, and multi-generations of marital health. This kind of heritage gives me strength too.
So when I think of why I should be joyful at Easter, I am overwhelmed with emotion as I begin to contemplate it. To celebrate such gifts is to be humbled by them. Joy, Joy, Joy!