On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “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: ‘The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’ ” Then they remembered his words.
When they came back from the tomb, they told all these things to the Eleven and to all the others. It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the others with them who told this to the apostles. But they did not believe the women, because their words seemed to them like nonsense. Peter, however, got up and ran to the tomb. Bending over, he saw the strips of linen lying by themselves, and he went away, wondering to himself what had happened. –Luke 24:1-12
Have you ever been to a funeral of someone you knew and loved? Or have you ever had a pet die? In those really sad moments, sometimes people will say something which they mean to be helpful, but isn’t actually. Sometimes, in an effort to be helpful and kind, people will say, “Death is a normal, natural part of life,” and maybe add something about “the circle of life” like something out of The Lion King. What they probably mean is, “Everyone and everything dies, so you shouldn’t feel too bad.” Why they think that would be helpful, I don’t know. But at least they’re trying.
But not only is it not really helpful, it’s also not true. Death is not a normal, natural part of life. Yes, everyone and everything dies. But that doesn’t make it normal and natural. Death is proof that something has gone very, very wrong with the world. Back at the beginning, God didn’t set up a world in which things die and break and fall apart and are sad. God made us to live forever, to never be sick or lonely or sad. That’s what’s natural; that’s what’s normal. Sin has ruined everything and messed up the world God has made. It’s been this way for so long that it seems like it’s always been this way, but it hasn’t. The fact that things die is very unnatural.
So when we come to the greatest miracle in the history of the world—the resurrection of Jesus—in one sense it’s amazing and surprising and unexpected. I mean, after all, no one else in the history of the world has raised himself back to life. That’s a pretty neat trick. But in another sense, maybe the resurrection of Jesus shouldn’t surprise us. Maybe we could even say that the resurrection of Jesus is finally something natural happening, instead of unnatural. The fact that the King of kings and the Author of life beat death and rose from the grave is the most natural thing in the world. Of course he beat death: he was the One who invented life. Of course he didn’t stay dead: the wages of sin is death, and he didn’t have any sin he had to pay for. Of course he rose from the dead: there was no possible way for Death to keep the King dead.
So on Easter, when we celebrate the resurrection, what we’re really celebrating is that something normal happened for once: death didn’t win. We’re celebrating God starting to turn this backwards, upside-down world right-ways up again.
Because, you see, Jesus’ resurrection was just the beginning, not the end. Just like when he brought Lazarus back to life to give us a little picture of the future breaking into the present, Jesus’ own resurrection is another look at what the future is going to be like. One day, Death will be finally get kicked out of the universe. One day, God will finish putting things right-ways up. One day, everyone who loves Jesus will be alive and free and full of happiness with him forever and ever. One day, life will be normal again. And Easter is the proof of that.