by Steve Norby
I eagerly anticipate two major times of the year. 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. I love the sights and sounds of Christmas. Personally, Vicki and I are now making it an annual event to travel to Falls Park in Sioux Falls each December and enjoy the light show they have there. 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 sin by His sacrifice on the cross. When I think of Easter, it’s a bit different from Christmas. This is the happiest sad story ever told. It’s so sad that the perfect Son of God had to be crucified for our wrongs. But the resurrection of Jesus that follows His crucifixion and His pain 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 great joy.
This is why I call Easter the happiest sad story ever. There’s so much suffering in the passion of Jesus, but once the Resurrection happens, there is great joy. I think we humans tend to experience joy when we see a wrong righted or the unlikely succeed. As I consider the joy of the Resurrection, I think its source goes way beyond reasons like these. It 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 unleashed, it causes me to rejoice.
Recently, Vicki and I traveled to Nevada for a conference, and we spent some extra time in the area taking in some sights. One afternoon, we went to the Hoover Dam. You can walk across a sidewalk that’s part of a highway bridge, which overlooks the dam to provide a full view of it. It is so massive. It fills your view.
When you read about the construction of the dam, you realize what a huge endeavor it was to build. It contains large electric turbines that produce and supply power to the Las Vegas area. I looked at that dam, and the word power stuck in my mind—a source of great power. For a few moments on that bridge, as I stared at the dam, I marveled at the accomplishment. It was a moment of rejoicing in this significant accomplishment of others.
When I think of the Resurrection, Power was at work. 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, have 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 I reflect on Easter, I love the progression of Holy Week. We go from the celebration of Palm Sunday to the grief of Good Friday as we remember Jesus’ crucifixion. And then we go back to celebrating 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. I have to admit that even in the dark moment 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. (Ephesians 1:19-20)