What was the happiest day of your life? Was it a special birthday? Perhaps the day you met the person you were going to marry, or your wedding day? Was it the day you got your first job? Or the day you retired? What was the happiest day of your life? For Jesus’s disciples, that is an easy question to answer. The happiest day of their lives was the first Easter Day – the day Jesus Christ rose from the dead! There is one emotion which we find again and again in the Easter story. One feeling which overwhelms all the others – and that is JOY. When the disciples found out that Jesus had risen from the dead, they were filled with JOY!
MATT 28:5 The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. 6 He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. 7 Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.”8 So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples.
So the women were filled with joy, and soon afterwards so were the apostles.
John 20:19 On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 20 After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.
They were frightened. They were surprised. But most of all they were filled with joy!
Luke 24:36 Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” 37 They were startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost. 38 He said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds? 39 Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have.” 40 When he had said this, he showed them his hands and feet. 41 …. they still did not believe it because of joy and amazement!
Of course the disciples were filled with joy when they saw that Jesus was alive again. They had been right there with Him when He was arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane. They had waited outside as Jesus was put to trial first before the High Priest, then before the Roman Governor Pilate, and then again before Herod the King of the Jews. They had watched from a distance when Pilate washed his hands as he sentenced Jesus to death. They had watched Jesus carrying his cross along the Via Dolorosa. They had watched as Jesus was nailed to the cross. They had watched every minute of his agony hanging there for the three hours it took for Jesus to die. They had watched as the spear pierced his side and blood and water flowed out. They had watched as the dead body of Jesus was taken down from the cross and sealed in the garden tomb behind a seven ton boulder. Their teacher, their master, their friend had been crucified, dead and buried right before their eyes! So of course they were filled with joy when they knew for certain that Jesus was alive again. He had died. Now he was alive. Of course they were overjoyed!
It made no difference that Jesus had already told his disciples everything that was going to happen to him. They had not understood then. When Jesus was crucified it was inevitable that they would weep and mourn and grieve. Only when Jesus rose from the dead would his disciples be joyful again.
JOHN 16:19 Jesus …. said to them, “Are you asking one another what I meant when I said, `In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me’? 20 I tell you the truth, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy. 21 A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world. 22 So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no-one will take away your joy.
On Good Friday Jesus Christ the Son of God was crucified. But now on Easter Day Jesus had risen from the dead. So now the disciples would rejoice!! And in the same way we also are filled with joy because Jesus is alive! We love Jesus. We are sad because he has died. And only one thing can take that sadness away.
Four friends were talking about death. One of them asked the other three, “When you are lying in your coffin and people are mourning you, what would you like to hear them say about you?” The first man said, “I’d like to hear them say that I was a fine doctor and a great family man.” The second man said, “I’d like to hear that I was a wonderful husband and a teacher who had really made a difference to his pupils’ lives” The third man replied, “I’d like to hear them say, ‘Look, he’s moving! He’s not dead! He’s ALIVE!’”
People who don’t love Jesus may not care when they hear that He rose from the dead that first Easter day. But the more we LOVE Jesus, the more thrilled WE will be that He is not dead but alive forevermore! The Cross was not the end of the story of Jesus. Easter Day was the new beginning!
Christ was raised to life on the third day! He was dead. Then he was alive again! There is a wonderful poster with a simple yet profound slogan. “Didn’t He used to be dead?” The answer is, YES, Jesus did used to be dead, but now He is alive! That is why we are filled with joy!!
And then we are also filled with joy because Jesus shares His resurrection power with us. Jesus gives us eternal life, life in all its fullness. And that life is nothing less than the resurrection of life of Jesus pouring into our own lives, the power which raised Chirst from the dead helping US to live a new life, to reign in life, to be victorious! And this is life which nothing can take away from us, not even death. Because Jesus is alive we have the happy certainty that we will live with Him in heaven forever! Because HE lives, WE will live also!
1 Peter 1:3 ¶ Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade- kept in heaven for you,
So we are joyful because Jesus is alive – not dead. We are joyful because his resurrection power is poured into our lives! And we are joyful because the resurrection of Jesus Christ is God’s guarantee to us that when we die we will be with him in heaven forever. No wonder we are joyful!
1 Peter 1:8 Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy,
An inexpressible and glorious joy – that’s the joy which Easter brings us!