Death at church. Have you been thinking about the Easter bombings at Christian churches in Sri Lanka? Horrible, right? As we celebrated Jesus’ resurrection at our churches with pretty dresses and flowers, joyful songs and trumpets, hundreds of Christians were slaughtered as they sat at church. Death at church—on what’s supposed to be the happiest day of the year. It’s chilling to think about, isn’t it?
This massacre reminds me of the incredibly naïve expectations we often have of being Christians. If you’re like me, you expect to be safe. Always! You expect to be happy. You expect your children to live and succeed and thrive. You expect other people to accept—or at least respect—your beliefs. You expect to live in peace. Especially at Easter!
But that’s not what Jesus promised. That’s not what Jesus told us to expect. Here’s what he said, “In this world you will have trouble” (John 16:33). The first Easter wasn’t a day of perfect peace and joy. Why did Jesus have to rise from the dead? Because he had been brutally executed! Why were Jesus’ disciples hiding behind locked doors? Because they assumed that they would be next! Over the coming decades, most were executed for their faith too. “In this world you will have trouble…” This world is not safe. It is not kind. It is sinful. It is violent. It hates Jesus and those who follow him. Just like Jesus promised!
That’s why Easter is so important. In the face of death, Jesus gives us life. Here’s how his promise ended: “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” I bet Jesus’ resurrection has new meaning for many Christians in Sri Lanka. In the face of death, Jesus gives us life. In the face of trouble, Jesus has overcome the world. “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die” (John 11:25-26). No bomb or terrorist can ever rob a believer in Jesus of eternal life in heaven. Christ is risen! Jesus has won!
Every time you go to church, God wants you to be ready to die. Ready for physical death through faith in Jesus. We never know when our time on earth will end! But also ready to put to death our will and our sins and our self-centered expectations of earthly peace and success. The attacks aren’t going to stop. They’re only going to increase. The opposition isn’t going to let up. It’s only going to grow. That’s why Easter has to be so much more than a day. It’s the heart of our faith as Christians. In the midst of the bombs and taunts, Jesus has won. Jesus has risen. We will too! “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” Thank you Jesus!
1. I know that my Redeemer lives; What comfort this sweet sentence gives! He lives, he lives, who once was dead; He lives, my ever-living Head!
5. He lives to silence all my fears; He lives to wipe away my tears. He lives to calm my troubled heart; He lives all blessings to impart.
Hymn “I Know that My Redeemer Lives.” Christian Worship #152, verses 1 and 5.