Tuesday, March 25, 2014

the last laugh

We've all heard the old line (especially at this time of year) that the only two constants in life are death and taxes. From a purely human point of view, there's a lot of truth to that..

The cares and concerns of this world, the sin and the suffering we all must deal with have a way of weighing us down, making us realize we can't go it alone, forcing us to admit our great need before God. In the end, we must come to the point of throwing ourselves upon the mercy and grace of our gracious Creator God. That's the other constant in life you see - the great love of God in Jesus Christ for sinners like you and me.The love of God that leads to the joy of the Lord.

There's another line I remember hearing a long time ago that goes something like this - "the one who laughs last has not yet heard the bad news."

That's the way a lot of people think in our world today. A lot of people think that anyone who puts their faith and trust in God is just plain foolish. Silly. Childish. Fairy Tale stuff. It's all one big April Fool's Joke.

But the Bible says quite the opposite. Psalm 53 reads - "The fool says in his heart, there is no God."

The truth is that God gives overwhelming evidence of His power and presence in the world. He does so through His creation, through our conscience, and finally, in Christ. It is in the person and work of Jesus Christ that God fully reveals Himself to us, and show us who He really is.

That's what Lent and Easter is all about. This is the time of year to remember and focus on the life and suffering and death of Jesus, to consider what that all means for our lives, and then to celebrate His glorious resurrection on Easter Sunday.

Now some people may think all of this is foolish. Most of the people of Jesus day sure did.

In the Gospel of Mark, a man named Jairus had a daughter who lay dying, and so he went to find Jesus and asked him to heal her. When they got back to the house, people were already weeping and wailing. When he entered the house He said, "Why all the commotion? This child is not dead, but asleep.” And it says the crowd laughed at Jesus because they all knew that she was dead.

He put them all out, brought the parents in, and he took the child's hand and said to her -
"Talitha koum - little girl, get up." And immediately she stood up, walked around, and had something to eat. And they were all astonished.

When his friend Lazarus died in the Gospel of John, Jesus waited several days before He came to visit. All the people thought Jesus was foolish for waiting so long. What is he waiting for?
It's been four days! What good is he going to do now? It's too late!

Even the good sisters Mary and Martha were perplexed. Martha said, "Lord,  if you had been here my brother would not have died. But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask."
Jesus said to her,  "Your brother will rise again." Martha said,  "I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day." Jesus said, 'I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies. Whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?" "Yes Lord, I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God."

And so, after coming to the tomb, after they had rolled the stone away, Jesus called out in a loud voice, "Lazarus - Come out!" And the dead man came out, linens, grave clothes and all. And Jesus said,  "Take off the grave clothes and let him go."

As great as this miracle was, it was only a preview, a foretaste of what was to come just a few weeks later. The greatest sign and miracle of all - the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Son of God for the salvation of the whole world.  

Now some people may think this is foolish. But here's the funny thing...

Historians believe the date for the first Easter was April 3rd, 33 AD.
If this is true, if Sunday, April 3rd was the date of the first Easter, then that means Friday, April 1st was the date of the first Good Friday. Which means that on the very day Jesus died on the cross for the sins of the world, just when the devil and his minions were beginning to celebrate his defeat, God turned it around on them and said, "April Fools!" and turned defeat into victory, death into life, tears into laughter, and sadness into rejoicing - by raising Jesus from the dead on the third day.

Thanks be to God, that in Christ, we get to have the last laugh!


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