by Steve Norby
I joyfully anticipate two major times of the year. The first is Christmas. Each year, we get an opportunity to enter into the wonder of the birth of God’s Son. God showed up in flesh and made Himself known. When I think of Christmas, it’s full of joy and nostalgia.
The second time of year I find myself anticipating is Easter. Easter is the rest of the story. God not only showed up in flesh—He came with a divine purpose. He came to atone for our sin by His sacrifice on the cross.
When I think of Easter, it’s a different kind of joy from Christmas. This is the happiest sad story ever told. It grieves me that the perfect, sinless Son of God was crucified for our wrongs. But the resurrection of Jesus, that follows His suffering and death, turns sadness into joy. It’s a sad story with a happy ending.
I watched with amazement the births of our six children. Each time, the moments leading up to delivery were full of pain and anxiousness. But, once the child was born, everything changed so quickly. The pain was soon forgotten (easy for me to say!), replaced with joy. In a similar but even greater way, there was much suffering in the passion of Jesus, but ever since the Resurrection, there is great joy!
I think we humans tend to experience joy when we see a wrong righted or an unlikely success. As I consider the joy of the Resurrection, I think its source goes much deeper than reasons such as these. The Resurrection was such a tangible demonstration of the power of God. Jesus says, in John 10, that He has the power to lay down His life and the power to take it up again. When I see this power of God poured out, it causes me to rejoice.
The grave could not contain Jesus. The power of God prevailed, and Jesus was raised. The power of God to raise the dead brings joy to me. I cannot stand up against my enemy Death, but God can. The bullies on the block—sin and death—met their match. The Bible tells us the same power that raised Jesus from the dead is at work in us. The older I get, the more meaningful this has become to me. Death has lost its sting. Death has lost its grip on me. God’s power at work in me brings me great joy.
As we progressed through Holy Week, we walked from the celebration of Palm Sunday to the grief of Good Friday, when we paused to remember Jesus’ crucifixion. And then we turned back to celebrating—praising God for the Resurrection on Easter Sunday morning! This was the emotional roller coaster experienced by those present with Jesus. It’s good for us to remember this. Even in the dark moments of a Good Friday service, the joy of the Lord is rumbling in my soul—because I know and celebrate that the same power at work in raising Jesus from the dead is at work in me. And that’s a reason to keep celebrating year ’round!