Come behold the wondrous mystery, slain by death the God of life
But no grave could e’er restrain him, praise the Lord, He is alive
What a foretaste of deliverance, how unwavering our hope
Christ in power resurrected, as will we be when he comes.
–Come Behold the Wondrous Mystery
Ordinarily we would be joyfully anticipating joining together this morning to sing songs just like this one. Due to Covid-19 this will not be the case this year. Each of us will be in our own homes, celebrating the holiday with only our closest of friends or family. These are disappointing circumstances for all of us. However, I think these circumstances also offer us a unique opportunity to reflect on aspects of Easter that we might not normally consider.
The Israelites Waited for Deliverance
In Exodus, the Jews had spent four hundred years in the bondage of slavery. The Egyptians “ruthlessly made the people of Israel work as slaves, and made their lives bitter with hard service.” (Exodus 1:13-14) These were the people of the promise, the people to whom God had sovereignly created from the lineage of Abraham to be his people that would display his Glory to the world, yet they were languishing in slavery. For four hundred years they waited. At the end of their waiting, however, deliverance came. God pummeled the Egyptians with plague after plague, preserved his people by the blood of the Passover lamb, and led them to safety through the parted waters of the red sea.
The Disciples Waited for Deliverance
God commanded that the Jews remember that great deliverance from Egypt through a meal called the Passover. (Exodus 12:14) Jesus was celebrating the Passover feast with his disciples when he ate the Last Supper, only hours before his crucifixion. Over 1,000 years had passed since the Lord delivered the people of Israel from their slavery in Egypt, yet they were still slaves of a different kind. In discussion with the Jewish leaders of his day, Jesus warned, “truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin.” (John 8:34)
So here, as he celebrated this meal memorializing the deliverance from bondage that God provided, Jesus was preparing his disciples for hard days of waiting for a greater deliverance from a different kind of bondage. they would see him slain in order to purchase their freedom from a slavery they didn’t even fully understand. As he was taken away by the Jewish leaders, the disciples went home, and they waited. For three dark days, they waited.
We Wait for Deliverance
Jesus did not stay dead. Three days of waiting ended with an empty tomb. His resurrection led to the explosive growth of Christianity culminating with you and me. His resurrection launched what can best be described as a rescue plan for creation. One by one the lives of sinful men will be changed, transformed to be like Christ. And we live with the promise that one day, the God who gave his own life to deliver us from our sin will deliver all of creation from bondage to sin and corruption. We are in a season of waiting for God to bring to completion what he started with the resurrection of Jesus. Paul says in Romans 8:18-24:
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved.
So as we sit, each in our own homes this Easter, celebrating the resurrection of our glorious God, do not miss the opportunity to understand the resurrection season with more clarity as a result of this terrible time. While we endure a world that is being ravaged by a terrible virus, we join the waiting of the Jews, disciples of Jesus, and countless other Christian men and women of the past. God who has delivered us from sin, and God will one day deliver all of creation from the brokenness that causes viruses and death. This Easter, we wait.