He asked her, “Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?” Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.” John 20:15

We like things nailed down. We like the predictable path of life: you’re born, grow up, go to school, work a job, retire, grow old and die. When life doesn’t follow that predictable pattern, it’s frightening. Maybe it’s another reminder that we don’t know as much as we think we do.

Easter is that kind of reminder. It turns things upside down. Followers of Jesus had gone to anoint his body. They understood what death and burial meant. But when they got to his grave, there was no body. They thought they knew Jesus. Now what did they know?

Easter is God’s message to you that things aren’t what they seem. Life is more. Death is more. Jesus’ promises are more. He promised, “Destroy this body and I will raise it.” And he did. He promised, “God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son.” And he did. He promised, “It is my Father’s will that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.” And he will.

If Jesus stayed in the grave, nothing he promised matters because … well, he’s dead. But if he’s alive…in a way, that’s even more frightening. You see, Jesus said, “Be perfect.” And we haven’t been. Maybe that’s why those early followers of Christ were afraid. How could Jesus have anything to do with them?

It’s no wonder, then, that when Jesus met people after his resurrection, the first thing he said was, “Don’t be afraid.” In Hebrew: “Shalom.” Be at peace.

You’ve sinned. Maybe you wonder if God will have anything to do with you. Shalom. Peace. That was Jesus’ message to the women who went to anoint his body, to Mary, to Peter, to Thomas, and it is Jesus’ message to you. “Be of good cheer, your sins are forgiven.”

It might not be what you expect. It turns the world upside down. It turns your world upside down.

Jesus is alive. Because of his resurrection, we too shall live! This is the unexpected but awesome truth of Easter!

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