We are five days and counting since Easter Sunday, and I have some good news for you. Jesus is still risen!
It’s funny how some get all excited about the resurrected Christ for a single day each year, but forget that He is just as much risen on the Monday morning after Easter as He was on the glorious day we celebrated His coming back to life. The promise of Easter, and the promise of the gospel altogether, is that Jesus has defeated death and the grave once and for all.
As I mentioned last Sunday, many people get real uncomfortable when you start talking about the subject of death. Perhaps it is because of the unknown, or maybe it is because some are uncertain about what will happen to them after they die. But whether you consider it morbid or not, it is a reality we must all face. I was reminded even this week, as Tax Day came, of the words of Benjamin Franklin, that there are only two things certain in life: death and taxes.
The Scriptures say the same thing a little differently: “It is appointed for a man once to die,” the writer of Hebrews told us. Which basically means that we all have an appointment with death. But the good news of Easter, at least for those of us who have a relationship with God through Christ, is that we have nothing to fear in death. In fact, because we have life eternal, we can even laugh in the face of death.
The New Yorker magazine has published more than 80,000 cartoons since its first issue, all intended to induce a laugh or a giggle or a smile. Most of those cartoons find their humor in poking fun at something, or someone, usually by pointing out the irony of a situation. Sometimes a cartoon deals with things we’d rather not talk about, but the joke provides a release from the awkwardness of the subject.
You want to know what character has appeared more than any other in The New Yorker over the years? The Grip Reaper. In an interview on 60 Minutes, cartoon editor Bob Mankoff said that the feared “bringer of death” has appeared in the magazine’s funny pages more than any other. For example, in one cartoon the Reaper’s latest acquisition is saying: “Thank goodness you are here-I can’t accomplish anything unless I have a deadline.”
Mankoff told 60 Minutes, “Honestly, if it wasn’t for death, I don’t think there would be any humor… The Grim Reaper’s going to get the last laugh. Until then, it’s our turn.”
With all due respect to Mr. Mankoff, for those of us who have placed our faith in Jesus Christ, it’s our turn now, and will continue to be. The Grim Reaper won’t get the last laugh. In fact, the scythe-toting tall, dark and not-so-handsome one will soon be out of work for good.
Hear again our hope, expressed in those familiar words of Jesus: “I am the resurrection and the life; the one who who believes in Me will live, even if he dies.” (John 11:25) I hope you believe in Him today, and that you know the security of eternal life in Christ that takes the sting of death away once and for all. He IS the resurrection, on Easter Sunday and every other day of the year.
What a joy it is to be your pastor, and I look forward to seeing you this Sunday at Shelby Crossings as we once again celebrate our risen Savior.