Lenten Devotional: March 10th
On the Third Day He Rose Again
I have trouble trying to capture the power of the resurrection in a sermon on Easter, much less in a short devotional. And maybe that's the point. The power of resurrection cannot be captured, contained, boxed in, or domesticated. In fact, the most common and earliest depictions of the resurrection are not about an empty tomb; rather, they are of Jesus breaking out of hell.
This early Christian theology taught that Christ not only freed himself from the power of the evil one, but he also freed others as they follow him in his escape from hell. This is depicted in some of the earliest paintings as Jesus coming out of hell, standing on the door he has burst open, with the devil squashed under the door and a vast multitude following him. This is what is usually called the "harrowing of hell."
Of course, this is just imagery for the power of what happened on the third day, but it is powerful imagery nonetheless. Jesus Christ is not just a victim of Good Friday, he has also won the victory on Easter Sunday! He is the victor over death and evil and in his victory we, too, are victors. Luther, following the theology of the apostle Paul, used to say that although we are in the midst of the struggle in the end the victory has been won.
This is the theology that produced the best of the civil rights movement in our country. It is what informed the famous saying of Martin Luther King, that the "arc of the moral universe bends toward justice." It provided strength during the fight against apartheid in South Africa. In the middle of some of the darkest days of apartheid Desmond Tutu once said, "Apartheid has ended! Jesus has won! Now all we have to do is wake each other up to that fact."
If life isn't good we know it, it's not the end, because in the end it is good. In the end victory is ours through the God who loves us. In other words, in the end, love wins!
So, whatever challenges you are facing today, whatever crisis awaits you as you exit your home, whatever fear you may face, none of these things are the end of the story. Jesus' victory over your challenges, over your crisis, and over your fears, is the end of the story. Live with that amazingly good news today. And take this scripture with you, which sums it up best:
In all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
– Romans 8:37-39
Rev. Brent Barry, Pastor, NorthPark Presbyterian Church