The word I associate most with Easter is “Joy!” There is the Hope and Joy of spring after a long winter – no matter what it has been like.
There is the Joy of Easter music.
There is the look of Joy on the faces of children dressed up for Easter.
There is the Joy of people gathering for church on Easter Sunday to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus.
The Easter story is a filled with Joy. An angel told the women when they arrived at the tomb early on Sunday morning to finish caring for Jesus’ body, “He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead, just as He said would happen . . . The women were very frightened but also filled with great joy, and they rushed to give the disciples the angel’s message” (Matthew 28:6-8).
Later, when Jesus appeared to the disciples in the upper room, “He showed them the wounds in His hands and His side. They were filled with joy when they saw the Lord” (John 20:20).
The Joy of Easter is easy to understand, the victory of Jesus’ resurrection over death and the grave is so stunning and complete.
But another part of Holy Week story contains the kind of joy that challenges our thinking – The Cross.
Hebrews 12:2, instructs us to “keep our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting Him, He endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now He is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne” (Hebrews 12:2).
How can there be any joy connected with dying on a cross?
Jesus’ joy came from looking beyond the cross to the joy of defeating death and vanquishing sin. The Joy of Easter is found in conquering death and sin. “But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:57).
We share in that victory today when we know the joy of salvation from sin. “Oh, what joy for those whose disobedience is forgiven, whose sins are put out of sight. Yes, what joy for those whose record the LORD has cleared of sin” (Romans 4:7-8). Every time we experience the joy of deliverance from sin, we confirm Jesus’ joy in facing the cross and defeating sin.
He is risen! He is risen indeed! Let the earth be filled with the sound of our Joy!