One afternoon a couple of years ago I was working in the front yard on a bright spring afternoon–the sun was shining, the flowers were blooming, and the birds were singing. Except one. To my dismay, a tiny sparrow literally fell at my feet on the driveway, fluttered twice, and laid completely still. Yes, the Lord’s words in Matt. 10:29 came to mind that not one of them would fall to the ground without the Father knowing it.
Despite my desire to have someone else do it, I knew that I would be overwhelmingly elected by the rest of my family to do the burial honors. So I grabbed a shovel, dug a tiny hole in our rose garden, said a few words, and placed the still little bundle of feathers inside. To this day, I remember feeling a sense of grief about the reality of death in this world, as I gently covered the grave with dirt. Wanting to secure the sacred site from any neighborhood cats, I piled on more dirt and stepped firmly on it with my work boots.
To say what happened next was a surprise would be an understatement of epic proportion. From under my boot I felt a violent struggle, followed by an explosion of dirt and feathers that went from under my boot straight into my face! This sparrow, now quite alive, catapulted from its grave to my face to the sky in milliseconds! Who was the most surprised–the bird or me, the unwilling undertaker?
Matthew 28 tells us that Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb where the crucified Jesus had been buried. We know that the guards had been terrified and had fainted at the sight of the angel, but the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay.” The women were surprised; the disciples were full of disbelief.
Not everyone was surprised. Even the angel got it, “…he is risen, as he said…” It had been Jesus’ plan all along to rise from the grave. In John 10:7-18 Jesus lets his disciples know ahead of time, not just THAT he’d die and rise again, but WHY! Although he had told them many times what was going to happen, they just couldn’t get it. It wasn’t until they actually saw the risen Savior that they truly believed!
All over the world this week, people are thinking about the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. To some it is just tradition and habit, to others it’s a meaningless break from school or work. There are many who have never heard. For those to whom Easter is the most significant event in human history, it is our security and hope of eternal life, our motive for telling others, and our power to love like Jesus loves.
I hope you’ll join us for Good Friday service at 7 pm and for Easter services on Sunday at 9:00 or 10:45.
Christ is Risen!