An Easter message from the Rt Revd David McClay, Bishop of Down and Dromore.
We are looking forward to gathering together in our church and with others online to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus. Our faith in Jesus Christ has at its centre the cross and the empty tomb. The empty tomb gives meaning to the cross. Were it not for the empty tomb, the cross would have been a tragedy.
The same witnesses of Jesus’ crucifixion and burial were also witnesses of his resurrection. Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were the first to receive news of the risen Lord and to encounter him. The disciples would also witness his resurrection and see the risen Jesus. Part of the crowd at the cross were also witnesses of his resurrection.
In the days that lie ahead we too will have many opportunities to bear witness to the wonderful truth that ‘Christ is Risen!’ This is our responsibility and our privilege. We tell the world that ‘Christ is risen indeed. Hallelujah!’
So as a church may we hear again and take to ourselves the words of the angels to the women to ‘go quickly and tell.’
‘Then go quickly and tell the disciples that he has risen from the dead, and behold, he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him.’
There was then and there certainly is now, an urgency, an immediacy about how this news, the story of what Jesus has accomplished for all through the cross and his resurrection, needs to be told. It’s the kind of news that it would be criminal to keep to ourselves. It needs to be told, to be told quickly and to be told widely and to all.
Lives two thousand years ago were changed. The same power that raised Jesus from the dead transforms lives today.
The empty tomb declared to Jesus’ disciples, the Jewish leaders, and the Roman authorities that something had happened to the body that had been buried there. It was the repeated appearances of the risen Christ that completely transformed the hearts and lives of the apostles. They became flaming evangels of the good news that the penalty of sin had been paid, death had been conquered, and Jesus Christ was and is alive. The risen Christ appeared to his disciples at least ten different times. The thrilling truth of his resurrection gave them a message of hope for a world that was facing despair.
Someone put it like this: “Like the notes of a thousand silver trumpets, the apostles went out to proclaim that Jesus Christ is alive. This was no figment of their imagination. It was no illusion under which they laboured. It was no mirage for which they died.”
We are indeed witnesses of his cross and of his resurrection. It’s our privilege in today’s tired and anxious world to tell others the Easter story.
The hymn writer captured it well:
Tell of his death at Calvary,
hated by those he came to save,
in lonely suffering on the cross
for all he loved his life he gave.
Tell of that glorious Easter morn:
empty the tomb, for he was free;
he broke the power of death and hell
that we might share his victory.
What a privilege is ours to tell others that;
‘Christ is risen.
He is risen indeed. Hallelujah!!’
Yours in the name of the risen Christ,