As the doors were closed, weeks ago, to seal off Rome’s Sistine Chapel to all, except some 115 cardinals, gathered to elect the new Pope of the Roman Catholic Church, Christians look to One who has the power to open all doors, including a tomb that had been sealed closed by the power of Rome three days earlier.
Easter reminds us that it is God’s power over death that raised a crucified Jesus to life so that he can become not only the Risen Christ, but our Risen Lord. Christ is entrusted with, and wields that same power – a power that overcomes sin and death and grants forgiveness and eternal life.
The gospel of Mark tells us that when three women approached the tomb where Jesus’ lifeless body had been placed, after it had been taken down from the cross, they saw the stone rolled away and they listened as a young man dressed in white said, “don’t be alarmed…you are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen!”(Mark 16:6) This was less a message to comfort them after what they had been through, than it was a message that confronted where they were heading in the coming days.
The angelic presence was there to confront them and their focus on death and closed doors, sealed tombs, and the impossibilities of life without Jesus. The messenger wasn’t there to help them to feel better after the death of a loved one. God was with them, in that very moment, with an invitation to experience the power of Christ in their own lives. “He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.” (Mark 16:7)
Exploring the possibilities of living life in the power of Christ is what Easter living is all about. Life, unfortunately tends to present each of us with more than a few closed doors. If our response was to only enter life through those doors that opened without effort, we would live very shallow, untried lives. God invites us to rely on the power and joy available to us through faith in Christ, which allows us to explore new possibilities and greater experiences.
Emily Dickinson wrote “I dwell in possibility”. God says “I make all things new!” I’m going to live my life leaning in this direction. It’s Easter-faith that makes the difference!