“Crucified on Friday, raised to life on Sunday. Three days or two? The answer depends on one’s culture and that culture’s methods for tracking time. In the Jewish way of reckoning time, it was three days. That is because of the way in which Jews determined the beginning and ending point of a day and their understanding that any part of a day equaled an entire day. Because the Genesis creation account describes the days consisting of evening and morning, the Jews understood that a day began with the evening. As sunset on Friday marked the beginning of Saturday and the Jews were rushing to remove the bodies from the crosses before twilight, that would mean Jesus’ body was in the grave for a very short time on Friday. One day. His body was in Joseph’s tomb all of Saturday. Two days. Sunset on Saturday denoted the commencement of Sunday. Jesus’ body was in the tomb at that point. Three days. Part of one day, an entire second day and a part of the third day equaled three days according to Jewish thinking. ‘On the third day he rose again according to the Scriptures’”
Hang on to Easter joy
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade, kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 1 Peter 1:3-6
There’s no mistake. It’s a special day. The worship space is filled with flowers, brightly colored banners, and people. Musicians support triumphant songs. Happy Christians greet each other with ancient proclamations of good news: “Christ is risen!” And they respond, “He is risen indeed! Alleluia!” It’s Easter Sunday!
Sadly, Easter excitement is often short-lived. If only Easter joy would linger beyond the benediction at the end of the service. If only Easter would permeate our lives as we head back to our homes, to school, to work, and to the daily routines that occupy so much of our time. How easily we forget the Easter truth we boldly declare: “He is risen indeed!”
NOT A ONE-DAY EVENT
The devil smiles when we treat Easter as a one-day event and then pack away its message along with the seasonal decorations. Easter’s message impacts our daily lives and our eternity. Easter empowers us to live each new day in hope and joy, no matter what sorrows or disappointments we may face.
The apostle Peter wrote to believers who were suffering “grief in all kinds of trials.” These first-century Christians were under tremendous pressure to renounce their faith in Jesus. When they faced the harsh reality of imprisonment and persecution, many were tempted to conclude that God had abandoned them and that their faith in Jesus was worthless. Peter lifted their eyes beyond present realities to the blessings they enjoyed through faith, blessings that were tied inseparably to the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. Suffering is temporary. Grief comes to an end. God had given them new birth into a living hope. In Jesus, they possessed an inheritance kept in heaven “that can never perish, spoil or fade.” Peter pointed to the empty tomb and proclaimed, “Here’s where you find your hope! Here’s where you discover your reason for joy!”
A MESSAGE TO CELEBRATE EVERY DAY
How can we hang on to Easter joy beyond the special worship services on April 5? How can we live in hope on May 7, July 19, Oct. 13, and all the other days on the calendar? Spend time in God’s Word! Listen as Jesus says to you, “Because I live, you also will live” (John 14:19). Remember your baptism! “We were therefore buried with Jesus, through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life” (Romans 6:4). Receive Jesus’ body and blood in the Holy Supper for the forgiveness of your sins and assurance of God’s love for you. Be encouraged by your brothers and sisters in Christ as you celebrate Easter joy every week in public worship.
The Easter flowers wither and the special music dies away, but the message of Easter continues to bring joy to forgiven sinners each new day. Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia!