Dr. Robert Jeffress: Easter 2021 and the hope an empty tomb offers us all




Last year’s Easter celebration felt more like one, unending Good Friday. The light and hope that Easter usually offered was eclipsed by the darkness and despair the disciples experienced the day Jesus Christ died.     

One year ago there was widespread fear throughout the world as the first wave of the coronavirus pandemic was raging. Countries were on lockdown. Churches were empty. Things were bleak. A pall was descending over our world, and we wondered if it would ever be lifted. 

In the last year, each of us has experienced some dark moments. We’ve faced the very real possibility of our own mortality.

At one particularly low point last year, my wife and I spent a day searching for and then purchasing our cemetery plots in case we became victims of the coronavirus.  News about death and dying has been inescapable—and it’s not just from the media. You may have received a text or phone call from a friend or family member informing you that a loved one is gone.

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These moments give us a small glimpse into how the disciples must have felt on the darkest day in history, what we now call “Good” Friday.

Of course, to those who were living through it, nothing about it seemed “good.” The motley band of disciples who had followed Jesus all across Israel for three years sat stunned. The One they thought might be the Messiah was gasping for air, nailed to a Roman cross. The great hopes they had for a new kingdom and an end to their suffering felt like wishful fantasies.

But light shines brightest after we’ve been immersed in the dark. It’s like coming out of a dark movie theater after seeing a matinee—you’re blinded by the light of the sun, which suddenly seems so much brighter. That’s how Easter 2021 has been for me. After months of drudgery, the end of the pandemic finally feels real to me.

I remember how excited I was driving down the Dallas North Tollway a few months ago  to get my first dose of the COVID vaccine. To my surprise, during my commute to the vaccination site, President Trump  called me from Air Force One.  As delighted as I was talk with the former president,  I was more focused on making sure I didn’t miss out on getting to the location on time and receiving my vaccine!  

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For me, the end of the pandemic brings some hope that I can once again experience the little things I enjoy so much.

I can hug my grandkids, catch up with old friends, and visit my favorite restaurants again.

The stark contrast between the dark days of 2020 and now the dawning of the pandemic’s end mirrors the contrast between the darkness of the  present curse under which the world labors and the bright hope Easter offers of the end of that curse. 

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No more separations, no more sickness, no more death, and no more night.   The hopefulness we feel about the end of the pandemic is just a  temporal hope. But the empty tomb offers a permanent, unending hope.

This week we celebrate the single event on which eternity turns—the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.     On that dark Good Friday when the sun stopped shining and the earth trembled, God was doing something far greater than anyone could see or comprehend. By His suffering and death, Christ atoned for our sins and paid the payment for sin that we deserved to pay. He was put into a tomb on Friday with mourning, but three days later on that  Easter morning He emerged triumphant over sin and death.

God turned the darkest moment in all of history–that Good Friday when Christ died–into the brightest celebration of life-giving hope on Easter Sunday. When the world was swallowed up in darkness, God was working to make all things bright and new.

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The good news is that He can do that in your life, as well.  Whatever pain you’ve endured this last year, the resurrection of Jesus Christ offers the assurance that the suffering you have experienced–though very real–is also very temporary. 

One day, as the Scripture promises, the world’s curse we live under will be removed and “death will be swallowed up in victory.”  That’s the hope an empty tomb offers.

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