When I was a child I had this idea that things in black and white were "old" and somewhat inferior. The "new" photos were in color and the old ones were in black and white. It was not until I took some photography classes as a youth that I started appreciate the nuances of black and white. It was then I discovered about the beauty of contrast. A meaning of the word contrast is "it describes the differences between two or more entities."
The events leading up to and after the first Easter morning were also full of contrasts. The weekend before Jesus was killed, he was ushered into Jerusalem and people hailed him as a King. Then the climate changed as the religious leaders and people demanded His death. Throughout the trial Jesus kept His focus on his mission in coming to earth. Jesus' journey to the cross detailed his dedication to His Father and His love for humanity. As He was nailed to the cross, His suffering and death was a testimony of His love. The crowd gathered to watch the spectacle of the crucifixion, and his followers were at loss at what to do next. The tomb seemed like the end of Jesus until Sunday morning - when everything changed. The Gospel of Matthew records the account of the first visitors to the grave: "The angel said to the women, "Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said (28:5-6)." As they ran away terrified from this event they bumped into the risen Jesus. Their mourning turned into worshipful praise and they spread the news about Jesus' resurrection.
Easter is actually the greatest story twist in history. It is a surprise. A shock. It changes everything for all time. The Bible tells us the death of Jesus was the punctuation of history as God had an eternal plan to settle the the separation from His creation that sinned had caused. The resurrection of Jesus then becomes the focal point as every moment since is lived in light of Jesus' death and resurrection. It's very clear.
Followers of Jesus in early times were all about celebrating the resurrection, healings and miracles of Jesus. They were focussed on Jesus' life and it was all about life. Peter talked about this calling: "What a God we have! Because Jesus was raised from the dead, we've been given a brand-new life and have everything to live for, including a future in heaven - and the future starts now!" (1 Peter 1:3-4, The Message).
And that is the journey we are invited to join. The transformation of our faith. The surprise of Easter is that God doesn't want us to stay there at the grave. He invites us into a new relationship, and He begins to work a transformation on us. Let us respond to His calling to be people who are living out the truth of Jesus's resurrection!
The River Covenant Church meets on Sundays at 10 a.m. at the Kenai Boys & Girls Club at 705 Frontage Road in Kenai. Pastor Frank Alioto also serves as a chaplain with Central Emergency Services and can be reached at 252-2828 or on the web at therivercovenantchurch.org
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