Never did death so completely devour hope as did the death of Jesus devour the hopes of his followers. The stone rolled before his tomb might have born the inscription, “Here lie the hopes of all humankind.” So complete was Jesus downfall that it destroyed any remembrance of his miracles among his disciples. It swept way from their memory his promise of Resurrection. In fact it was better remembered by his enemies than his friends, for they asked Pilate for a guard to be put around the tomb for they remembered that he had said “After three days I will rise again” (Matt 27:63).
The gifts of heaven are granted in our tears. But our triumphant Lord rejoices most perfectly in our smiles. When you receive him this morning in Holy Communion, he becomes in you the seed of eternal joy and this joy is your best hope. It is a principle of life that nothing can hurt you, “for greater is he that is in you than he that is in the world” (1 John 4:4).
Faithfulness is not for the distrustful. The strength of holy love is holy hope. Do not claim you love God unless you trust God. Christ rose from the dead that we might have a love stronger than death.
Our weakness lies in our lack of willingness to hope. Our Redeemer speaks to us in our despair as he spoke to Mary Magdalene in the garden. He invites us to trust him. Easter is that day to make an act of hope.
Therefore my brothers and sisters, as we exchange Easter greetings we say to you, have Easter hope. May our risen Savior fill you and all who are dear to you with confidence in God. May you love him deeply, May he be the refuge of your hearts and the source of your faithfulness and hope. Amen.