Easter: Deep and Everlasting Joy

Empty Tomb

“You seek Jesus of Nazareth who was crucified. He is not here; he is risen just as he said.” Mark16:4

Easter has always been my favorite time of year.   As a child, one of my favorite memories growing up was visiting my grandparents for Easter. They lived in a quaint house in the golden hills of Jackson, California. Though we had clouds the day before, on Easter we woke up to a day with blue skies, sunshine and balmy spring air.  Before we hurried off to church that morning, my mom gathered the three of us girls for pictures in front of my grandma’s meticulously manicured garden.  As we posed in our brand new Easter dresses holding baskets of colored eggs and candy, we could smell the blooms hemmed in all around us.

The day couldn’t have been more perfect…..only for me it was about to get even more perfect because it was also my birthday, and cake and presents awaited me in the afternoon. But back then, I didn’t realize that there was a deeper joy to Easter, a joy that I didn’t quite yet understand.

In a non-believer’s point of view, why is Easter so important, so special, so JOYOUS an occasion?  Because if Christ didn’t rise again, there would be no Easter.  There would be no reason for celebration.  There would be no Palm Sunday, no Good Friday, no hope, no CHRISTIANITY.

Jesus is and was the most powerful and influential man in history, and with reason.  He is the Son of the Living God.  Why have billions of people decided to accept Him as their personal Lord and Savior and live their lives for Him?  Why have millions upon millions of people shared testimony of how their lives have changed since they accepted the gift of salvation?  Why have millions of people risk their lives and even become martyrs to spread the gospel, to tell the good news? Countless miracles have taken place.  Lives transformed. The course of history changed forever.

To put it simply:  Jesus Christ was one of either 3 things:  either He was delusional, a liar, or indeed the Son of God.  Believing any of these is an act of faith.  If you don’t believe in Jesus, do you believe that He, being the greatest teacher with having the most profound influence on humankind in all of history, did not have a sound mind?  There is no question of His sanity.  If He was a liar, He would have had to deceive countless people, and have His followers do likewise, and have lived a lie. People who lie have other patterns of behavior that attest to the fact that their morals are in question.  Was Jesus’s morals ever in question? No. He did not sin.  What about the miracles that people saw with their own eyes, were they lies?  Would He willingly be tortured and die for a lie?  It is not a possibility.  The only possibility that is left is that He is indeed the Son of God as He said, and as was prophesied centuries before He was born.  And what happened after His resurrection is living proof that everything that was foretold from the beginning of time became a reality.  The Bible has a red thread woven through each of its pages, Old testament and New, that represents a certain aspect or symbol of Christ.

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My feeble attempt at trying to describe why I believe in Jesus is just that…feeble.  But I can tell you what He has done in MY life.  Without a doubt, He has changed my life forever.

For a short time, in my junior high years, my family stopped going to church.  We watched Shirley Temple and the Three Stooges instead.  It was always such a hassle going to church and so much easier to sleep in on Sunday mornings.

I went to a public school so there wasn’t much in the way of religion.  We were taught the theory of evolution and my faith was seriously put to the test.  Everything I learned in Sunday School was in question.

So by the time I hit high school, my spiritual foundation was shaky.  We did start going to church, but I never really got “plugged in” as there wasn’t much of a youth group and I didn’t have close friends at church that I would interact with on a regular basis.  Sadly, my high school experience wasn’t much better.  My good friends moved away during my freshman year.  I felt alone in a sea of a thousand high school students.

Instead of getting involved in anything, I chose to start working.  At 16 I started my first job at a medical clinic.  All my free time was taken up by my job and homework.  Though I sat with a great group of girls at lunchtime, I didn’t spend much time with them outside of school.  So because I didn’t have a strong spiritual influence, I had a mindset and made choices reflecting my independence from God.

Looking back, I remember a day that changed me forever.  I came home from work one day and my sister Erika had a brand new cassette tape (before the days of CD’s ;)) of Michael W. Smith  “Go West Young Man”. She asked me, “do you believe in Jesus?”  I said, “Yes.”  She came back with, “I mean, do you have a personal relationship with him?” “What do you mean?” I asked.  “Do you pray to him, do you talk to him?  Is He your friend?”  I knew the answer….no.  So I listened, really listened to the whole tape and wanted to understand what was being communicated in the songs.  During this song, “My Place in This World”, with tears in my eyes I said a prayer to Jesus rededicating my life to Him.  I was “looking for a reason, roaming through the night to find my place in this world…”  I knew Jesus was speaking to me.  The words were seeds planted just for me at just the right time in my life.  Since that day, my life has never been the same.

I’m so thankful for the gift of salvation through Jesus Christ and the hope of eternal life.  That makes the occasion of Easter a truly  joyful occasion, even beyond all the beauty and joy that spring brings.  We as Christians have the deep joy of knowing Christ as our personal savior and nothing can compare with that kind of joy.  Nothing.

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