“Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you!’ After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.” (John 19:19-20 NIV)
“Jaelyn, where are you?” I shouted. My eyes hunted up and down the store aisles. My heart pounded. She was only two-years-old, and enjoyed wandering off. I ran up and down the aisles. My shouting escalated into a piercing shriek. People began to recognize my panic and began to help in the search. Dreadful scenarios raced through my mind. Tears welled up in my eyes. She was nowhere in sight. I turned for one second and now she was gone. Minutes passed, but it felt like hours. “I will never leave until I find her,” I promised myself through my tears. I cried out to God for help. Sorrow began to consume my heart. I stood frozen, in shock. I glanced to the side and saw a distant wicker basket wobble. I dashed toward the basket. I ripped off the top. There she was, lying there with an exploding grin. I fell to my knees and embraced her. She laughed wildly—completely oblivious to my frantic search. I wiped away my tears and beamed. In an instant, my sorrow had turned to joy.
Can you imagine the agony that Mary and the disciples suffered as the soldiers hammered nails into Jesus’ hands? Their hearts must have overflowed with sorrow and grief. Not only were they grieving the death of their beloved son and friend, but they were also grieving the death of their Messiah. The days that followed were likely full of darkness and despair. However, on the third day their sorrow disappeared. In the midst of their anguish, Jesus physically appeared to them. Wounds adorned His body, but He was alive. He had conquered death and had revealed His divine power. Can you imagine the unspeakable joy and astonishment they each experienced? Just as my sorrow vanished the moment I came face to face with Jaelyn, their sorrow likewise vanished they came face to face with their friend and Savior.
For Easter, many churches focus on the torture that Jesus endured. Some go as far as reenacting the physical torture Jesus suffered. In recounting the atrocious beating that Jesus endured for our sins, we cannot help but feel tremendous sorrow. Our hearts ache as we envision our Savior draped on a wooden cross, drenched with blood. Anger fills our hearts when we think of the savage men that ripped our Lord’s flesh apart. There is no doubt; He endured death on a cross—but only for a moment. The true purpose of His death was our eternal life. He knew this beforehand and willingly suffered a brutal death for our sake. This is an astounding display of love. Just as the disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord resurrected, we too should be overjoyed. He overcame death and gave us life—eternally. There is no longer sorrow in His death, but joy in His life!
God, thank you for your amazing sacrifice. You gave your one and only Son to shed His blood for our sins. Your gracious love humbles me. Lord, you have turned my life of sorrow into a life of joy. Please allow the joy of Easter to forever resonate in my heart. Jesus has risen and has given me life; there is no more joy than this!