“He is risen!” The Lord is risen, indeed! Alleluia!” How I love this greeting. This is no “Morning” grumbled while stumbling toward that first cup of coffee. It’s not a chin raised in recognition of an acquaintance or a quick handshake upon entering a room. This is the greeting of two believers. These are the traditional words that Christians exuberantly share on Easter Morning, heralding the joy they share in knowing that their Savior has indeed beaten the grave. These are the words upon which our faith is built.
The fact that our Lord rose from the grave after three days is the whole reason for this season. It’s the whole purpose of our faith In Jesus Christ as our Savior. He came, fully man, to this earth to experience what we experience. But, he was and is fully God. The death of a good man on the cross for the sins of others would have been noble and loving. But it would not have been redeeming. This is such a difficult concept to teach to our children. Christ’s death was gruesome and barbaric. But at the very same time it was beautiful and holy and the greatest act of love ever performed for them.
As we walked through this season of self-denial and prayerful contemplation, I tried to help my children understand that the reason we deny ourselves certain pleasures and comforts in the time leading up to Resurrection Day is not to make us an inherently better person. Denying ourselves sugar, or TV or meat on Fridays will not make us a holier individual. It does not in and of itself bring us closer to God. What it does do, if done in prayer and meditation on what He gave up for us, is point us to the One on whom we place all our faith and that is what makes us a better person. That is what brings us closer to the One who died to know us.
Not only do we have a Savior who gave Himself over to suffering and death in order to share eternity with us, but He overcame death. He endured His Father’s wrath so that we wouldn’t have to. He felt the weight of every sin ever committed by mankind heaped upon his soul until at last The Father was satisfied.
And so we share these words after the long weeks of Lent. We, at last, share in the joy of Jesus’ resurrection end the fast of the “Alleluia”s. And when I greet my children on Resurrection Day with these words and they answer back, I know that they, in part for now, and someday will fully know, the joy of knowing that their Lord has overcome all evil and they will stand with Him in complete victory. Because He lives. Today, tomorrow and always.