See and Believe

Claude Lorrain, “Easter Morning” (1681)
Stadelsches Kunstinstitut, Frankfurt, Germany

Easter Sunday
For Sunday, April 12, 2009

Claude Lorrain painted this at 81 years of age the year before his death. Apparently he was close enough to heaven that he could see it from there. Christ is risen! In the Orthodox East it is customary to proclaim this on Easter morning. The response is then also proclaimed: “He is risen indeed!”

This week’s first reading, Acts 10:34-43, proclaims the gospel with crystal clarity. “They killed him by hanging him on a tree, but God raised him from the dead on the third day (vv. 39-40). . . He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one whom God has appointed as judge of the living and the dead. All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name” (vv. 42-43). I proclaim with the Apostle Peter that there is no other name under heaven by which we can be saved. Do you believe this as well? Then we together have received forgiveness of our sins. Hallelujah.

This week’s second reading, Psalm 118:1-2, 14-24, celebrates the salvation in which we have believed. The Lord is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation. This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. If we take a moment to reflect on the reality that God has made this day and every day for us, we will rejoice and be glad in it. This is how I want to live.

This week’s third reading, John 20:1-18, is one of my favorite passages, because of the playful joy of the gospel which it conveys. Peter and ‘the other disciple’, most likely the author John himself, are running to the tomb after being informed by Mary Magdalene that Jesus’ tomb was both open and empty. Curiously, John points out that this ‘other disciple’ outran Peter and reached the tomb first (v. 4). Why is this important? He doesn’t say, but notes this same detail again two verses later: Finally, the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first . . . ” Do you remember being a kid and just running for the joy of life? Maybe this is what John intends to convey here. Let us run to this Easter with a playful joy because of what God has done for his Son along with us.

This week’s final reading, Colossians 3:1-4, sets our course moving forward from Easter. Since you have been raised with Christ set your hearts on the things above. Set your minds on the things above, and not on earthly things. Let this Easter be a day in which we set our hearts and minds on Christ seated at God’s right hand upon the throne of heaven. For in so doing we will then live out our remaining days on this earth to the praise of His glorious grace, just as Claude Lorraine portrays for us so beautifully.

Christ is risen! Go ahead, say it with me: “He is risen indeed!”

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