(Excerpts from The Splendor of Easter by Floyd Thatcher)

The very first Easter took Jesus’ friends by surprise. He had warned them that he would have to suffer and die, and that he would rise again from the dead. But they missed the meaning of his words.

And who wouldn’t?

Although our culture is fascinated with the “undead”, vampires, werewolves, and zombies, to name a few, we don’t really expect the dead to rise up…and zombies, for example, not exactly how I would want to come back from the dead anyway! Nothing else seems so permanent to us as death; nothing else is so inescapable.

And so, we fear death. We fear death so much as a society that we don’t even want to appear to age naturally.

Cosmetic plastic surgery is a multi-billion dollar industry in North America. We celebrate and maybe even worship those (celebrities, mostly) that seem to age very gradually, very gracefully.

Ultimately, though, and eternally speaking, we’re behaving superficially, and short-sightedly.

We’re focused on appearances as a way of dealing with our fear of dying, and we’re concerned with just this side of heaven. But Easter is about life here and now, as well as the after-life. Easter is about deep transformation in our inner being now and eternally.

That first Easter, which took most of Jesus’ disciples by surprise, became the centre of their thinking, their activity and their whole lives. Not only had Jesus defeated death, but he had also brought new hope to humankind.

For the first disciples, Jesus’ resurrection was more than an incredible historical fact – they saw Jesus alive again after they had seen him dead and buried – the resurrection is history-making; Jesus is alive!!

And because Jesus is alive, hope and transformation continue to be available to all who believe.

We can know and have assurance that we will inherit eternal life. We can know and have encouragement in suffering. We can know and have the joy of a real relationship with God. We can also share and see the transforming power of Jesus making real change in us, in our family, friends and neighbours and in our communities.

He is a symbol of living hope. Hebrews 2:14-15 (CEV), describes the Easter story this way, “We are people of flesh and blood. That is why Jesus became one of us. He died to destroy the devil, who had power over death. But he also died to rescue all of us who live each day in fear of dying.”