Luke 24:1-7, 24:30-32
“On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, 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.’ ”
Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?”
This Easter Sunday was different. Surrounded by elaborately dressed African Mamas and Tatas and the dust that their dancing produced, I was overcome with the celebratory atmosphere. People shimmied, stomped and shouted, “Uvikile! He is Risen!” as though they themselves were the very disciples that found the empty tomb. I remember a lot about Easters in Africa with services extending for hours while babies slept and wooden benches teeter tottered under the weight of their many occupants. I recall this particular Easter to be the one where the jolly, boisterous pastor repeatedly hollered, “Vuka! Wake up!” as he recounted the victorious story of the resurrection. Though I suspected he caught the eye of a dozing attendee, there was something to his shouting that has stuck with me every Easter since that one.
In Luke’s account of the Gospel, we see Jesus’ beloved friends astonished to find the empty tomb where Jesus had laid. Though filled with faith for God’s promises, they unknowingly found themselves looking for the living among the dead. Later other disciples were alarmed that their mysterious, fellow traveller was unaware of the tragic events of that week. They missed seeing Jesus for who He was, the Resurrected Lord. In both moments, they were unable to see. I wonder in these encounters if part of Jesus wanted to cry out to those He loved. With face beaming He would proclaim, “Wake up and truly see me! I am your Resurrected Lord. I am alive for you, to offer you life, celebrate my victory!” Just as Jesus was awakened in the tomb, defeating sin and death, so should our hearts wake up to all that the resurrection means for us.
Because of the Resurrection…
We are set free from the power of sin and darkness
Hope, peace, healing, restoration, and freedom abound
Death has been defeated and eternity with God secure
We can intimately know our God
Fullness of joy is found in His presence
Abundant life is at our doorstep
…The list is beyond searching out.
As Pastor Manphis’ voice echoes, “VUKA!” in my mind, I wonder in what ways my eyes are not fully awake to the power and person that is our Resurrected Lord. Easter so easily reminds us of the tremendous sacrifice of the cross, leaving us humbled with gratitude. Above all, the resurrection of Jesus is worth celebrating. The resurrection is the happy ending that is actually a glorious beginning for us.
Jesus’ death on the cross triumphantly paid our debt once and for all. It’s His Resurrection from the dark and dismal tomb that guarantees His continual life at work in and through us. With eyes of faith this Easter may we be awakened afresh and new to the power of the resurrection for our lives. For Jesus is Risen and we have a reason to celebrate!
Raised in Portland, OR, Jenna Javens served as a missionary in Africa for five years before moving to Bend, where she is now the Global Outreach Pastor at Westside Church.