The Victory of Christ's Resurrection
On one occasion Michelangelo, the great Renaissance artist, turned on his fellow artists in a spirit of indignation. He complained: “Why do you keep filling gallery after gallery with endless pictures of Christ in weakness, Christ on the Cross, of Christ hanging dead? Why do you concentrate on a passing episode as if it were the last work, as if the curtain dropped on Him with disaster and defeat? That dreadful scene lasted but a few hours. Instead, why not focus on His unending and eternal victory. The stone has rolled away! Christ is alive! Jesus reigns in triumph!”
Of course, the Cross is much more than “Christ in weakness.” We make the sign of the cross, we wear crosses, and we identify with the Cross precisely because it is a symbol of divine strength, supreme love, and ultimate victory. As we experienced during our journey through Holy Week, Jesus was anything but weak. He revealed immense strength to voluntarily accept the path of suffering and death in order to display His unfathomable love for all humanity. He prayed before His Passion, “Now My soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save Me from this hour?’ But for this purpose I came to this hour. Father, glorify Your Name.” Christ understood that to glorify the name of the Father and reveal Divine Love to the world He would accept the Cross and even death itself.
Yet, we also need to remember, like Michelangelo noted, that the Cross is never the end of the story. We heard today the angel proclaim, “Do not be afraid. You seek Jesus of Nazareth who was crucified. He is risen! He is not here.” Divine Light shines forth from the grave because death can never contain the Source of Life!
This morning during the first Resurrection service, we heard one of my favorite hymns when Hades cries out in despair that he received the crucified Jesus Christ. He laments: “My power is swallowed up! The Good Shepherd was crucified but raised up Adam and all the fallen. All I ruled over is lost; all I was able to consume in my power, I have spewed out. The Crucified One has emptied the graves. The sway of death is no more!”
Let me repeat that! “The Crucified One has emptied the grave! The sway of death is no more!” What appeared to be a victory for darkness and evil actually became a triumph of goodness and life not only for Christ Himself but for all the generations before and after Him, including for you and me!
Think about this. After experiencing such harrowing days through the Passion of Christ – with His betrayal, His rejection by His own people, His humiliating treatment, His horrific torture and suffering, and His unimaginable death – it appeared that the darkness and evil of the world prevailed. The wonderful story of the Teacher and Miracle-worker from Nazareth seemed to come to a disgraceful end. Yet, when our Lord willingly accepted the Cross and became a sacrificial lamb, taking upon Himself the sins of the world for the salvation of the world, God revealed that He was always in control.
Christ’s Resurrection proves that Divine Love is greater than the worst hatred and evil of the world. Divine Light will always shine brightly in any and all darkness. This is why we live every day of our lives in the eternal joy of the Resurrection! This is what I want each of us to remember tonight. In the midst of whatever struggles and uncertainties we face with darkness or disappointment or illness or sadness in the world, never forget that Christ is Risen and His victory over darkness and death is something we all can participate in!
Never get discouraged by what we read daily in the headline news - news that appears so disturbing with the COVID numbers jumping to their highest level worldwide with the desperate situation in India, with ongoing stories of violence and death, with daily narratives of injustice and hatred, and never ending bad news that portrays the world as a place of gloom and darkness – we must never forget that Christ is Risen from the dead, trampling down death by death and granting life to those in the tomb!
Remember what we experienced tonight. One little candle could light up an entire darkened church. One solitary death on a cross changed the history of the world! The Good News we proclaim today is to never give in to despair and never focus on the darkness or evil or death that surrounds us in the world. Instead remember that Christ is Risen and He invites each of us to become participants in His victory, to become partakers of His Divine Light, and then asks us to become light-bearers of hope and joy in the world at large.
Come receive the light from the Light that is never overtaken by night and glorify Christ who is risen from the dead!
Christ is Risen!
Facing Our Uncertain Future
Love Until It Hurts
Our Orthodox Faith
Spirituality: The Meaning of Theosis As the Goal of Christian Life