May 29, 2012, 1:22 PM
Easter: Surprise, Joy and Hope
Easter in the Christian calendar celebrates the resurrection from the death of Jesus Christ, three days after he was crucified. The Easter story is at the centre of the Christian faith.
The Gospel stories tell the following: that people were surprised, full of joy and hope by the resurrection of Jesus who had died on the cross and was buried. In John’s Gospel, Mary Magdalene thought Jesus’ body had been stolen. Then Mary thought Jesus was the gardener. When Peter arrived at the tomb, he saw the linen cloth wrappings that had been around Jesus’ body in the tomb, but he could not imagine why the body of Jesus was not there. The disciples did not seem to understand the Scriptures that had foretold the death of the Messiah and what Jesus had told them about his death and resurrection. Where was the body of Jesus?
In Luke’s Gospel, the angels said to the women at the tomb: “Why do you look for the living among the dead? “He is not here, He Is Risen!” What a sentence to better inform the women that Jesus was alive. The meaning of the first Easter! The giving of Good News! That Jesus had overcome death. This brought a reaction of Surprise, Joy and Hope to the bereaved women who were visiting the grave.
In Matthew’s story of the resurrection we read that, the women and the guards were surprised when they realised that Jesus had risen from the dead. The women had come to the tomb where they had buried Jesus, with great sadness, expecting to find him lying dead in the tomb. The women experienced the biggest shock, the biggest surprise. They discovered that Jesus Christ was no longer dead! He was not there, HE WAS RISEN, HE WAS ALIVE!
The women ran quickly from the tomb, filled with fear and excitement, but also with joy and hope. They went to tell the good news to Jesus’ disciples. The disciples, too, were surprised, and then full of joy and hope! The good news of the resurrection, that JESUS IS RISEN, and that HE IS ALIVE transformed their sorrow, sadness and hopelessness into Surprise, Joy and Hope.
Today, almost two thousand years later, is it still worth celebrating Easter? – To this I say a resounding “yes”! We need to put ourselves into the experience of those first witnesses of the resurrection, first the women and the other disciples. Jesus is alive today! Jesus is with us today! Jesus can and will surprise us today. Jesus can and will give us joy today! Jesus can and will give us hope today if we invite him into our lives today, now, even as you hear this Easter message. Our sorrow, sadness and hopelessness can be transformed by the surprising, joyful and hopeful good news of the resurrection stories.
In our lives, the resurrection of Jesus can become real in many different ways, such as, when the impossible becomes possible. When we expect the worst, but it turns out for the best. The same power of God that raised Jesus from the dead can be at work in our lives today. The gift of God’s surprise, joy and hope is found when sickness and disease are healed, when we forgive one another and we allow our enemies to become our friends. There are so many possibilities of God’s amazing grace found in the surprise, joy and hope of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
The surprise, joy and hope of the resurrection moved the women at the empty grave to worship Almighty God. In the Gospel of Matthew in chapter 28 verse 9 we read: “And suddenly, Jesus met them (the women) and said, “Greetings!” And they came to him took hold of his feet and worshipped him”. This means, that the women were the first witnesses of the resurrection and they worshipped Jesus as the risen Christ and the Son of God.
Today, in 2013, as we celebrate Easter, we too can respond to the risen Jesus Christ with surprise, joy, hope and worship. We can face each day with enthusiasm, no matter what. When we have lost loved ones through death, let us not give up hope. Joy will come again. We will meet our loved ones again in heaven, in the resurrection of Jesus. When our minds are filled with worry, or we are living less than our best, or we face disappointments and are sad, may the Easter story of Jesus’ resurrection remind us that God in Jesus came to give us new life and a new beginning.
The celebration of Easter, its surprise, joy and hope, is meant to be shared. The women went to share the story of Jesus Christ’s resurrection with the disciples. They shared the surprise, joy and hope that they experienced because they met the risen Christ face to face. Let us today share the surprise, joy, hope and worship of Jesus Christ that come through Easter with everyone.
May Almighty God bless His Excellency Sheikh Professor Dr Alhaji Yahya Jammeh, President of the Republic of The Gambia and to Her Excellency, Ajaratou Dr Isatou Njie- Saidy, the Vice President, and May Almighty God bless everyone of us and grant us all long life and good health, strength and happiness, wisdom and courage, peace and prosperity. Amen.
Cordial Easter Greetings goes to His Excellency Sheikh Professor Alhaji Dr Yahya A. J. J. Jammeh, President of The Republic of The Gambia and to Her Excellency Ajaratou Dr Isatou Njie-Saidy, the Vice President, and to the Government and to the National Assembly, and to all my Ecclesiastical Colleagues and Religious Leaders and members of all faiths and none to you all, my brothers and sisters. Have A blessed joyful Easter.