During a rugby match at university, a friend of mine was particularly unnerved to see a gang of humongous, muscle-bound men bearing down on him. As he anticipated the apocalypse that awaited him, a voice to his left said, “With you,” and with intense relief, he passed the ball. The risen Christ comes to the sad, the depressed, the overwhelmed, the disappointed, the weary and the confused and says, “With you.”
Mary Magdalene was deeply sad because she thought she’d forever lost the person she loved, who had transformed her life. She stood outside the grave weeping (John 20:10-18), but the Lord came to her, called her by name, and showed her that He was alive and would be with her always. She was filled with joy.
“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.” —Luke 24:5-6 (NIV)
The two disciples on the road to Emmaus were very confused by the events of Christ’s crucifixion. Harsh realities had now eclipsed their faith and hope (Luke 24:13-35). Jesus was not who they had hoped He would be. The risen Christ came and explained the Scriptures to them, and their hearts “burned” with clarity and refreshed conviction (v.32).
The other disciples may have felt frightened, weary or depressed (Luke 24:36-43). Their whole world seemed to have fallen apart. But then Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you” (v.36, NIV). At first, they were startled and frightened (resurrections have that impact, I guess!), but when they realized Jesus really was with them, they were filled with “joy and amazement” (v.41).
“I am with you always…” —Matt. 28:20 (NKJV)
This Easter 2023, the risen Christ still comes to us, however we may be feeling and regardless of our circumstances, and says, “I am with you always.” What you may be preaching to others on Sunday is true for you today. There is no pit so deep nor darkness so opaque that the risen Christ cannot break through.
Let me leave you with this thought from Martin Luther:
“Know ye, then — sin, death, devil, and everything that assails me—that you are missing the mark. I am not one of those who are afraid of you. For Christ, my dear Lord has presented to me that triumph and victory of His by which you were laid low. And from this very gift of His, I derive my name and am called Christian. There is no other reason. My sin and death hung about His neck on Good Friday, but on the day of Easter, they had completely disappeared. This victory He was bestowed on me. This is why I do not worry about you or my circumstances” (What Luther Says, Concordia).
Jesus has risen! Let us rise up together and bring the Kingdom throughout our Western District. Let nothing distract us, let no one dissuade us, let no lie defeat us. Let our souls be quickened by this task He has entrusted to us this Resurrection day.