A two-year-old girl could hardly wait for Easter to come. She had a new dress to wear and new shoes to go with it, but her father wondered whether she knew the true meaning of Easter. “Kara,” he asked, “do you know what Easter means?”
“Yes, I do,” she smiled.
“What does it mean then?” her father asked.
With a smile on her face and her arms raised, she cried, “Surprise!”
There is no better word for Easter. “Surprise!”
That was the clear reaction of Christ’s disciples and closest friends that first Easter day. In Luke we read that Jesus’ disciples were distraught after his crucifixion. “Early on Sunday morning, some of the women took spices to the tomb. They found the stone rolled away from the mouth of tomb. When they went inside Christ’s body was not there. Suddenly two men in gleaming white clothes stood beside them. The women bowed down their faces with fright, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: ‘The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’” (Luke 24:5-7) Then they remembered Christ’s words. When the women came back from the tomb, they told the disciples what had happened. But none of the men believed them. Their words seemed like nonsense. Surprise!
Even though the disciples had heard Jesus telling them over and over that he must suffer and die, they clearly didn’t comprehend those words. Even though he had promised that he would return after his death, they couldn’t wrap their minds around such an incredible message. Because of their inability to fathom God’s plan, they were completely taken by surprise when the stone was rolled away and the tomb was empty.
Perhaps you and I have heard the resurrection story so many times that it has lost some of its power. It certainly doesn’t come as a surprise to us. But even in its familiarity, don’t let Christ’s resurrection lose its wonder and its miraculous power to transform that which is dead in us into new life, new hope! Christ is risen! He is risen indeed!
The Apostle Paul’s words remind us that because of the risen Christ we do not need to live in defeat or despair:
“So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” 2 Corinthians 5:16-17
“Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.” Philippians 3:14
Surprise! Jesus Christ is alive, and his resurrection power has been given to you and me! We are a new creation, and we press on to receive that heavenly prize.
This Easter, allow the risen Christ to bring new life to your heart and to your spirit. Live in the power of his resurrection and expect to be surprised by joy—a joy that can abide in our heart, regardless of our circumstances because we know that God is in control and we know that his love never ends.
The joy of the Lord is our strength.