Last Thursday, al-Shabaab terrorists burst into a Christian worship service on the campus of Garissa University College. They took hostages and then made their way to the dorms, where they began separating students by their religion. According to a witness, they allowed their Muslims brothers to be freed, while those who professed Christ were killed. As of three days ago, 147 were dead.
That’s it. The end. No more story. Finished. Defeated.
That’s how the story looks. That’s how it’s played out with our eyes. Those terrorists had a goal, and they think they succeeded. The death of these Christians gives the appearance of a terrorist victory. It seems that the ones holding the guns are winning.
So what does this have to do with Easter? Everything.
The religious leaders of Jesus’ day had a similar plot. Jesus was wrecking their normal. His strong following disrupted and threatened their authority and influence. These leaders would not go down without a fight. After Jesus raised his friend Lazarus from the dead, they were intent on one purpose: The ultimate defeat of Jesus.
And on Friday night, it appeared they had succeeded, just as the terrorists had in Kenya. Jesus was dead. He was buried in a tomb. It looked like the end. No more hope.
But we know this to be true: Weeping may last for the night, but a shout of joy comes in the morning! (Ps 30:5)
After 3 days of weeping, of darkness, of death…. LIFE happened. The defeat that was, was no more. With formidable POWER and mighty TRIUMPH, our very own Jesus defeated death.
I lay down my life that I may take it up again.
No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord.
I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again.
I am the resurrection and the life;
he who believes in Me will live even if he dies,
and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?
For this is the will of my Father,
that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him
should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.
Jesus is alive right now, reigning and ruling in triumph and authority. And those 147 Kenyans are right next to Him, more alive now than they ever were on earth. Their faith has been made sight & they know victory.
I’m not naïve to the fact that the world shakes their head at this, thinking we must not be very intelligent to believe this is real. Some feel sorry for us that we’re this foolish to buy in to what the Bible says and actually base our lives on it. Others will hate us just like they hated Jesus and the 147 Kenyan students.
But for us who believe, we know hope. We know resurrection life.
When our marriages are on the brink of death, we have hope because we know God can breathe life into what’s dead.
When finances look bleak, we hope in the Lord, because He can make abundance spring up from nothing.
When dreams are crushed and there seems to be no future, we lift our heads because God can do anything He pleases.
When the doctor looks us in the eye with the prognosis we feared the most, we can have hope even then because we know that even if we die, we will live.
I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I put my hope.
I wait for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning, more than watchmen wait for the morning.
Israel, put your hope in the Lord, for with the Lord is unfailing love and with him is full redemption.