Sunday, April 12, 2020 is just another day in COVID-19-ville for many people. For others it is the day when they can finally enjoy watching their children hunt in the home or backyard for plastic eggs filled with candy and other treats.
But for me and thousands of other disciples of Jesus Christ, today is a day to celebrate the unthinkable: The power of God unleashed to bring the glorified body of Jesus to life!
Luke 18:32-33: “He will be handed over to the Gentiles. They will mock him, insult him, spit on him, flog him and kill him. On the third day he will rise again.”
On Thursday, I and other believers reminded ourselves of the day Jesus was betrayed by one of his 12 disciples, arrested and found guilty in three sham trials. The next day, we sadly and uncomfortably considered the excruciating pain that Jesus endured during his death on a cross. As many know, but some do not, the word “excruciating” is rooted in the Latin and tied to the manner of Jesus’ death.
This is the official etymology from the Oxford English Dictionary:
Etymology: < Latin excruciāt- participial stem of excruciāre , < ex- intensive (see ex- prefix1 1b) + cruciāre to torment, < cruc-em cross.
Yes, Jesus’ death became the model for a word meaning agonizing pain or anguish.
All of that misery and sadness turns completely today as we joyfully celebrate Jesus’ triumphant resurrection and fulfillment of scripture.
I’m not someone who typically enjoys being called to chant some phrase during worship. For example, I cringe every time someone on my church’s worship team exclaims, “God is good,” knowing that the rest of us are expected to reply, “”All the time.” It seems too forced.
The church does have a history of chanting, “Christ is risen. He is risen indeed” on Easter. I won’t quibble about the value of recognizing that statement as an expression of belief on this most special Christian holiday. I would say, though, that I don’t say those words like the fact of Jesus’ resurrection is breaking news.
We know it. We’ve grown up believing it. Just like Christmas celebrating Jesus’ birth, Easter is an annual celebration of his miraculous fulfillment of prophesy and God’s affirmation of Jesus’ righteousness.
This conclusion of Holy Week reminds me deeply of what caused the need for Jesus’ death (our sin and inability to atone for it ourselves) and what his resurrection promises believers (the right to be called children of God).
That’s not news; but it IS “Good News.”