He is risen. Those three words have a great deal of meaning to Christians all over the world. Those three words represent the cornerstone of the faith that Christians profess. While there are many documented miracles that Jesus performed, any one of those miracles doesn't prove beyond doubt his status as the son of God.
The water into wine at the wedding in Cana showed a great deal of power but had there been no wine, it wouldn't have diminished his standing. The healing of the lame, the ability to give sight to a blind man or hearing to a deaf person, while marvelous, could be dismissed as examples of his being very different from everyone else. But the empty tomb is quite different. Death had been conquered and not only conquered, but conquered as foretold.
We all know that governments have great power and the assets to wield that power. Rome was no different. We can only imagine the pressure on the local leadership in Jerusalem as Jesus was crucified and then buried. He had many followers and he had scared the entire government all the way back to Rome.
We can all imagine that the guard selected for the duty to ensure that nobody could steal the body was a very trusted and capable guard. He would have stationed himself even in the wee hours of the morning so that anyone even trying to roll the stone away would have awakened him if he happened to doze off. He wasn't dead at the scene so there was another explanation.
We can only imagine what he said to his superiors and his friends when he tried to explain that the stone began to move on its own and that Jesus stepped out from inside the tomb. I think he might have become the first convert in history.
Thomas, the doubter, asked for proof and Jesus was seen in many different parts of the area after his death. Rome just couldn't continue to deny some realities.
A few weeks ago there was an event in the Oakhurst Cemetery and an on-looker came by and asked how many churches there were in Oakhurst. Almost on cue a bunch of us stated, "one." That happens to be the fact. Christians have many faiths and styles of worship, but we all recognize that we are a part of the body of Christ, the one church. We just have many "branch offices."
This week is Holy Week. It began with Palm Sunday, which marked Jesus' triumphant entrance into Jerusalem, and continues today with Maundy Thursday by Anglicans and Holy Thursday by most others. It marks the night of the Last Supper.
Tomorrow will bring Good Friday observances in a few churches and then some churches will have Holy Saturday Vigils or services.
Sunday is Easter -- The most important day of the Christian year, more important than Christmas because without Easter there would be no reason to ever celebrate Christmas. Most churches will have special services planned with great music and there will be an outdoor sunrise service at E.C.C.O. (Evergreen Conference Center, Oakhurst) at 6:30 a.m. The service is going to be held outside by the pond, so dress warmly. There is a seat waiting for you so make plans to join in the celebration of the Resurrection of Jesus with others from our community.
You will hear the phrase, "He is risen" and the usual response back is, "He is risen indeed." That is the Easter message. Jesus conquered death and the grave. That sets him apart. He told his followers that he would prepare a place for them in His Father's Kingdom. His death was to take our sins away to allow us the opportunity to enter into heaven and share eternity with God. It isn't about bunnies and eggs, Easter hats or even chocolate eggs -- It is about Resurrection -- Plain and simple.
If you have fallen away from your church or are searching for a reason to walk into one for the first time this Sunday is a great reason. You will be welcomed at any one of the churches at any of the services.
Easter -- Resurrection, eternal salvation, God's grace, and blessings. It's a great deal for us. The Lord is risen. He is risen indeed.