Easter Day

  • 18 April 2022
  • Stuart Robinson

St. Peter’s Watsons Bay

The 24-hour news cycle is an ever-present reminder that all is not well with our world, or with our souls, for that matter.

Images of war, displaced persons, havoc wreaked by natural disasters, the withering impact of the COVID virus (more than 500 million cases; over 6 million dead) fill our little screens, daily.

And accounts of displaced persons and refugees, corrupt leaders, and our own exposure to death and decay, are unnerving and unsettling reminders that life is fragile and fleeting.

And that is why Easter Day is such good news; our situation is serious, deadly serious, but it is not hopeless. 

Let me explain:

Aesop’s collection of fables date back to the 6th century B.C.

In one of his tales Aesop recounts the story of a fox visiting the ‘king of the beasts’ – the lion, who was said to be gravely ill.

At the mouth of the lion’s den the fox paused and took stock of all the tracks of all the animals that had gone into the cave to pay their final respects to the lion.

A sonorous voice, from deep within the cave, beckoned the fox, “come forth”.

“I think not, the fox replied, “for I see the footsteps of the many who have gone in – and of none who have come out”.

That cave is to be understood as a symbol of the grave, of death.

All will enter, that is a given.

But it raises the question: Is the grave, is death – as Shakespeare’s Hamlet once reported, “that undiscovered country, from whose [domain] no traveller returns”?

Or might we somewhere find footsteps leading out?

The angels who greet Mary of Magdala, Joanna, and Mary the mother of James, at the borrowed tomb of Jesus the Nazarene, assert there are – Luke 24:4ff.

Speaking of the recently crucified and buried Jesus they counsel the terrified women, whose knees have buckled at the angels’ appearing, “why is that you look for the living among the dead? [Jesus] is not here; he has risen!” (Luke 24:6).

“Remember how he told you”, they continue, “[that] the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, be crucified, and on the third day be raised again. 

Then the women remembered Jesus’ words. (Luke 24:7-8).

Here’s a fascinating piece of modern history.

On November 10, 1982, Victoria Brezhnev committed an act of civil disobedience.

It was public and it was profound.

Victoria Brezhnev was the widow of the Soviet leader, Leonid Brezhnev.

Throughout the 60’s and 70’s, Mr. Brezhnev resolutely promoted the doctrine of secular humanism and atheism.

At his funeral in November 1982, Victoria stood motionless by her late husband’s casket until a second or two before it was finally sealed.

Then, just as the soldiers touched the lid, Victoria, with great courage, reached down and made the sign of the cross on her husband’s chest.

Victoria Brezhnev – in that fleeting, though very public moment – turned her eyes to Him, whose impact upon life and history is symbolised by the cross, the Lord Jesus.

The cross was of course the instrument upon which Jesus’ execution took place.

The angel’s make specific reference to it.

Why should it bring a measure of comfort to a grieving widow?

Because Jesus could not be contained by the death that enveloped him on that cruel scaffold.

Having absorbed fully the wrath of God for the sin of the world; having embraced my hell, and my judgement, Jesus arose (as we heard from our Acts 10 reading).

Hence the angel’s declaration, “He is not here; this is the third day, Jesus is alive!”

Thirty-five years ago, a police prosecutor gave me, a newly ‘minted’ Priest, a tour of a city morgue.

He opened a large, refrigerated drawer, unzipped the bag, and there before me lay a man in his early thirties, a murder victim. 

The disfigured body was grey, cold, and utterly lifeless; a shell; capable of nothing other than decay and decomposition.

That’s death: stark, cruel, unrelenting.

And that is why Jesus’ friends are appalled by the reports of his resurrection: But they did not believe the women, because their words seemed to them like nonsense. Luke 24:11.

Now, it is true that these disciples had been on hand to see Jesus’ miracles, and they had heard Jesus speak of his death and resurrection – but it is also true that in the space of a few days their world had unravelled.

They were lost, and they were grief-stricken; immobilised, I believe, by fear and a sense of hopelessness.

And unbelief prevailed.


Peter leapt to his feet at the women’s report, and he ran to the gravesite – and there he saw for himself that the stone had indeed been rolled away; that the tomb was truly empty; and the graveclothes that Jesus had evidently passed through, were set to one side (Luke 24:12), just as the women had reported (Luke 24:9).

The living Jesus was, as the angels declared, no longer among the dead (Luke 24:5) – a truth irrevocably driven home to Peter and the disciples when the resurrected Christ appeared before them and invited them to inspect his wounds and to share their food with him – as we heard in our Acts reading (Acts 10:41; Luke 24:40-43).

Here then, is why Easter is such good news:

First, Jesus’ rising from death means that God can be trusted. He keeps his promises. Here’s one that relates to the state of our world: There is no wisdom, no insight, no plan that can succeed against the Lord. Proverbs 21:30.

Second, Jesus’ rising from death means that life is not limited to a here and now that is marked, in part, by unmet longings, grief, and cruelty. Jesus overturned the power and the finality of the grave. Death is but a portal or a gateway through which disciples pass, in order to share in the joy, the celebration, and the satisfaction of God’s eternal presence and favour.

Third, Jesus’ rising from death means that we can be forgiven our shortcomings and our sin. Through Jesus – who paid sins’ price in his death, we can (this very day) be right with God. As we heard from Acts 10 – ‘everyone who believes in Jesus, receives forgiveness of sins through his name”.

Fourth and finally, Jesus’ rising from death means that justice will be met out in full – to all. 

Peter said of Jesus in Acts 10:42 – [The risen Jesus] is the one whom God appointed as judge of the living and the dead.

Forgiven people will inherit the eternity that Jesus’ death and resurrection has secured; unforgiven people will be consumed by that which has mastery over them now – and that for eternity (Matthew 25:46).


Let me conclude with an Easter prayer – that you may wish to make your own by simply repeating it.

Lord, thank you that Jesus’ rising from death means that you can be trusted. I trust you.

Lord thank you that Jesus’ rising from death means that life is not simply limited to the here and now. Prepare me now, through the vagaries of this life, for the blessings of eternity.

Lord, thank you that Jesus’ rising from death means that my sin has been forgiven through his sacrifice. I receive that forgiveness; help me to live this life in the light of your love and mercy.

Lord, thank you that Jesus’ rising from death means that I have nothing to fear in death and judgement. Give me courage to share that good news with all who will listen. 


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