John Morrison – 16 April 2017

On Friday, Jesus was crucified and buried in a sealed tomb. But on Sunday morning, there was good news that quickly spread – “He has risen!” The gloom and grief of Friday and Saturday turned to rejoicing and celebration.

Good Friday services are very different from Easter Sunday services. There is always a sombre note to Good Friday as we remember Jesus’ crucifixion, even though we know what happened next. Easter Sunday bursts with joy as we celebrate the triumph of life over death.

We rejoice because we have hope through Jesus. The Anglican Primate, Rev Dr Philip Freier, alludes to this in his Easter message this year. He points out that a great cloud of darkness covered the earth at the time of Jesus’ death and that dark clouds still threaten in various places today. But, he says, “Jesus rose from the dead on Easter Day, and changed everything. His resurrection was the proof of his definitive victory over sin and death. For Christians, hope can never again be utterly distinguished. Easter speaks throughout the ages to the condition of human despair. Christian faith shows us the way in which we can share in Jesus’ victory over all that pushes us to despair.”

We also rejoice because of the new life in Jesus. In his recent Easter message, Neville Callam, the General Secretary of the Baptist World Alliance, said: “The one who was crucified and then laid in a borrowed tomb was not only the creator and giver of life, but is life itself. The One who self-identifies as ‘the way, the truth and the life,’ breathes the fresh air of new life into our old life, leading us to experience new birth. The Lord who is ‘the life’ speaks life into our deaths and brings the breath of newness where old ways and old imprisonments could continue to cramp or immobilize travelers on life’s journey… At Easter, we celebrate the gift of eternal life that is made possible through the death and resurrection of God’s Son! Hallelujah!”

Many Easter customs, such as those involving eggs and rabbits, point symbolically to this new life in Christ. So does baptism.

As Paul tells us in Romans 6:14: “Therefore we have been buried with him by baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.”

That’s why it’s such a delight and joy to have the baptism of Lydia Williams in our 10.30am service on this Easter Sunday. Her baptism is not only a testimony to her faith, but a proclamation of Jesus’ death and resurrection and new life in him.

“This is the day that the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” (Psalm 119:24)