On the third day, the friends of Christ trod mournfully toward the tomb where He had been buried. To their amazement, they discovered not a well-guarded sepulcher but an empty one. The stone, that colossal sign of finality, had been rolled away. No easy feat. Slowly, in the dawn of that morning, it began to dawn upon them that it was not their Lord who had died, but death itself. Our Lord, the Great Gardener who had sown the cosmos with His words, now walked afresh among His creation. One of His dear friends, a woman, was first to see Him, yet mistook His identity.
Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” She, supposing Him to be the gardener, said to Him, “Sir, if You have carried Him away, tell me where You have laid Him, and I will take Him away.” (John 20:15)
Easter is a day of celebration. On this day, we reflect on the time Christ took back the keys of the grave. His triumph becomes our song. As His perfect, atoning blood flowed from His body, the power of sin was broken; and as the power of God flowed into Jesus’ tomb-encased body, the power of death was taken. Our redemption was secured. Heaven rejoiced and Hades trembled. The mountain of eternal death was rolled away; the centurions saw it. We rejoice that our Lord was not confined to the grave, but that this Holy One would not see corruption. It was His resurrection that caused His sacrifice to secure our redemption.
And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins! —Paul, the apostle(1 Corinthians 15:17)
Easter commemorates the greatest triumph history has witnessed. Few men escape stone-clad tombs; no man escapes death. Many great men, kings, and conquerors have dotted the historical hillside. Men wielding incredible military power, minds of flashing intellect, men of notoriety and fame—yet all these illustrious tales acquiesce to the reaper. Death’s jaws open wide for a one-way trip to which all succumb in spite of their marvelous achievements. Yet, here is a poor carpenter from Nazareth. Lowly and meek, He comes onto history’s scene, surely forgotten if not for the tales and letters and books that would outline His extraordinary life. He’s not like the rest. He doesn’t wield swords or parade His achievements (at least not yet). Only some know but, as a greater David, this Bethlehemite defeats giants like Death. When this perfect Man came to hell’s gates, Death himself came out welding his crooked keys and fearfully said, “Here. These are Yours.”
“I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys of Hades and of Death.” —Jesus Christ, the Son of God (Revelation 1:18)
Easter is eschatological in that it points to our future. The accounts make clear that Christ’s resurrection was a first of many to come. First comes the offering, then the harvest. First came His sacrificial offering, then we, the harvest, shall appear with Him in glory. What is sown in pain and sorrow will suddenly be snatched up again by power from the mouth of God. The same Man that left His tomb will call forth men from theirs. Dust will regather, dry bones will rattle, bodies will animate and be filled with the consciousness of saints long past. Lives now may be wrought with toil and misery, yet it shall not always be. Mary wasn’t completely wrong when she mistook Jesus for the gardener at the tomb, for He is indeed the Great Gardener of our lives. Easter reminds us that we are to look ever forward to the harvest of that great day.
Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ’s at His coming. —Paul, the apostle (1 Corinthians 15:23)
Many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life,
some to shame and everlasting contempt. Those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the firmament, and those who turn many to righteousness like the stars forever and ever. —Daniel, the prophet (Daniel 12:2–3)
Rejoice, church! Rejoice, you former sinners! Rejoice, you who were once dead but now made live in Christ. Celebrate with friends and family. Laugh and rejoice, for because of the day of His resurrection, the great day of your resurrection lies before you. The tomb is empty! Our redemption is secure! On that day, we too shall say, “Oh Death, where is your sting?”