April 16, 2017 • Life for Leaders
But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, [the women who had been with Jesus in Galilee] came to the tomb, taking the spices that they had prepared. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in, they did not find the body. While they were perplexed about this, suddenly two men in dazzling clothes stood beside them. The women were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen.”
He is risen, indeed!
So Christians have proclaimed for centuries on Easter morning and throughout the season of Easter, as we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus.
During the fourteen days prior to Easter, I have been reflecting with you on the Stations of the Cross, to help us prepare for a deeper experience of the reality of Jesus’s death, and therefore a greater celebration of his resurrection. Today, on Easter Sunday, I want to add an Easter postscript to this series of devotions.
Without the resurrection, the cross of Jesus really wouldn’t matter much.
Without the resurrection, we’d never have known about Jesus’s prayer on the Mount of Olives, where he submitted to the will of his Heavenly Father.
Without the resurrection, Judas’s betrayal of Jesus would have been long forgotten.
Without the resurrection, the Sanhedrin who condemned Jesus would have been seen as largely correct in their estimation of him as a blasphemer who needed to be silenced. Without the resurrection, Peter’s denial of Jesus might seem like a judicious way to preserve his own life.
Without the resurrection, we’d probably never have heard the name of Pontius Pilate, unless we happened to take a class in Jewish history in the Roman Period.
Without the resurrection, the fact that Jesus was scourged and crowned with thorns would seem to be a sad but fitting end to one who pretended to usher in the kingdom of God. Without the resurrection, Jesus would have been one more nameless individual who took up his cross on the way to dying a cruel death. Without the resurrection, Simon of Cyrene would have disappeared into the dust of history.
Without the resurrection, the women who mourned for Jesus would have continued to mourn for a long, long time . . . not for just two days.
Without the resurrection, most of us would know very little about crucifixion, unless we had seen the movie Spartacus. (Of course there would be no Passion of the Christ film.)
Without the resurrection, the promise of Jesus to the thief, that he would join Jesus in Paradise, would seem like a bad, sad joke.
Without the resurrection, the presence of Jesus’s mother at the cross would be painful in the extreme, but little more.
Without the resurrection, the cross would be largely forgotten, and it would not appear on millions of buildings or around millions of necks.
Without the resurrection, the tomb would have been the final resting place of Jesus, until his body was exhumed so his bones could be placed in an ossuary (box for bones).
Without the resurrection, there would be no Stations of the Cross.
Without the resurrection, there would be no Christian church.
Without the resurrection, there would be no assurance of salvation.
Without the resurrection, there would be no reason to hope.
Without the resurrection, there would be only death.
Yet, because of the resurrection, we reverence the cross. Because of the resurrection, the cross is one of the best-known symbols in the world.
Because of the resurrection, what was once the sign of horrific death is now a sign of life and hope.
Because of the resurrection, the death of Jesus is remembered, cherished, even celebrated. Because of the resurrection, the Stations of the Cross lead, not to death, but to life.
Because of the resurrection, we are reborn into a living hope.
Because of the resurrection, we know that we too will live anew. Because of the resurrection, everything is different. Because of the resurrection, new life has begun.
Christ is risen!
He is risen, indeed!
Explore more at the Theology of Work Project online commentary: 3 Reasons Easter Matters for Your Work
Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders, and the founder of the De Pree Center’s Flourishing in the Third Third of Life Initiative. Previously, Mark was the Executive Director of the De Pree Center, the lead pastor of a church in Southern California, and the Senior Director of Laity Lodge in Texas. He has written eight books, dozens of articles, and over 2,500 devotions that help people discover the difference God makes in their daily life and leadership. With a Ph.D. in New Testament from Harvard, Mark teaches at Fuller Seminary, most recently in his D.Min. cohort on “Faith, Work, Economics, and Vocation.” Mark is married to Linda, a marriage and family counselor, spiritual director, and executive coach. Their two grown children are educators on the high school and college level.