We make mistakes, do things we regret and regret not doing other things. The good news of the Gospel is not only that Jesus died that we might be forgiven, but that he has been raised from the dead! In him, we too are raised from being dead, so that we can have new life, full of hope and promise.
Sometimes our plans get disrupted. Or we get something we would have never expected. We make mistakes and fall short; we get caught up in “deadly” routines and behaviors - that prevent us from living fully. One great surprise has changed the course of all our lives and enables us to move from self-made plans and expectations into the life God has created. We celebrate that reversal today.
Two women go to the tomb, a place for the dead. A guard of soldiers has been standing watch to make sure none of his disciples could steal his body and claim he was resurrected. These soldiers, policing the tomb, were to make sure Jesus “stayed dead.” No human power could stop God from overcoming death. An angel announces the news and a reversal of positions. The soldiers are so afraid that they become “like dead men.” Jesus lives, and those who would have him dead become deathly afraid.
The angel tells the women, “Do not be afraid.” This is actually good news for them. Despite their fear, their joy about Jesus’ resurrection moves them to run and tell the other disciples the good news. When they encounter Jesus, he says “Do not be afraid, go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.” Fear no longer needs to control us, even if learning to live fearlessly doesn’t come naturally.
The Ephesians text reminds us we are deeply loved by God--loved so much that we are saved through faith in Jesus Christ. This is the power of God--that even when we were dead in our trespasses- or the places that we sin, Jesus Christ raises us to new life. Our sin does not define who we are, or who we will be. Instead, we are forgiven and raised to life. We are called to more.
As we encounter the living Jesus, we can move forward, even if we are afraid. We do this not on our own strength but through the resurrection power that comes through Jesus Christ. As living testimonies to God’s redemptive work in Christ, we cannot keep this good news to ourselves. We are called to go out and tell the world that Jesus is risen and that this is good news for all.
From the United Methodist of greater New Jersey website
Lisa Beretz, LLBeretz@gmail.com