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  • Writer's pictureFBC Muncie

Easter 2024 - "The Last Enemy To Be Defeated"

“If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied. But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.”

-From 1 Corinthians 15:12-26


Easter! Resurrection Sunday. Bright colors, pastels, Sunday dinners, and celebrations. Bunnies and baskets. Spring time and life. These might come to our mind: good things, fun things, things of this world. 


And then we walk into church. We hear about a man who died a gruesome, horrible death on a cross, was laid in a tomb which was not his own for days – and on the third day an angelic messenger tells his friends who are looking for his body: “He is not here! He is risen!” (Matthew 28:6). He rose – and the Christian faith makes a remarkable claim. He did not rise in our hearts. He didn’t represent an idea that lives on in his followers. As John Updike wrote: “Make no mistake: if he rose at all / It was as His body.


But, we might well ask: even if we were to believe such an extraordinary thing happened, what does it mean for our lives? 

The poet Mary Ruefle once wrote a reflection comparing King Tut– with his famous tomb crammed with his riches and worldly possessions to take with him to the Egyptian afterlife – to the tomb of Jesus:


 "Here are only two tombs: the tomb of Jesus and the tomb of Tut. Roll away one stone, and you will be given everything: food, clothing, shelter, gems, cloth, seeds and oil, a replica of the world in pure gold. Roll away the other stone and there's nothing."


It seems like Jesus’s tomb has nothing to offer. But look closely: you’ll see the opposite is true.


The Apostle Paul wrote a letter to Corinth. Some there had, evidently, questioned this idea of a bodily resurrection — that God will raise us again on “the Lord’s Day” or “the Last Day.” The Apostle doesn’t mince words. If the Father did not raise Jesus, the Son, then all this Christianity business really is sad and pitiable talk.


Why? Because what happens to Jesus happens to us. This is what Paul means by calling Jesus the “firstfruits.” He is a preview of our destiny.


Yes, we will face death, difficulty, dreams deferred and dour circumstances. Jesus of Nazareth himself had no shortage of such trials. He performed miracles, was lauded as a Messiah, healed people, taught crowds, was heralded as a prophet, teacher, and deliverer of his people – if not the whole world – and where did it get him? Killed: abandoned by his friends, and nailed to a tree.


You can see what a dreadful story the Gospel becomes … if Christ is not raised from the dead.


If our Easters were just candy-filled baskets, bright flowers Sunday hams, joyous songs, and the friends and family currently gathered around us, that would be delightful, for a moment, for a season, for a year. But the baskets will be empty, the flowers will wilt, the ham will be picked clean, the last note of the song will hang in the air and disappear forever, and even our friends and family will one day leave us – until we ourselves meet our end. If that is all Easter was about, if we only have Easter celebration for this life only, we of all people are to be found sad and pathetic. 


But, remember: what happens to Jesus, happens to us.


If Christ is raised, then we will rise too. Our hope is not for this world. King Tut’s tomb is filled to the brim with stuff because that stuff is all that there is. Preserved in a tomb: hope for this world only.


But Christ’s tomb is a gift turned on its head: we open it up, and are shocked, surprised – surprised by joy – to find it gloriously, wonderfully, empty. Because the power of the Spirit of God has raised him, our hope is not just for this life.


The full tomb of King Tut signifies our lack: all the things that will fade and decay and be no more.

The empty tomb of Christ shows our abundance: life to the full, abiding with God, an Easter which cannot end.


“The last enemy to be destroyed is death.” The Apostle tells us. And the Lord’s resurrection has shown us what happens in the end: Christ has put even this great foe under his feet.


And what happened to him, will happen for us.


Alleluia!

Christ is risen.

He is Risen Indeed.



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