Pastor’s Pen

Reed Stockman Pix

Anxiety rises within us when we are threatened. The heart pounds harder. Adrenalin flows when our lives are placed in danger. All of our systems go on high alert when we find ourselves threatened. David certainly understands those symptoms. Many times his life was in danger. As a shepherd keeping watch over his father’s flocks, David contended with predators like bears and lions. But it wasn’t just animals that threatened David’s life. Without a doubt David is best known for the way he fought the giant named Goliath. His life was in danger when King Saul put a price on his head. Once Saul hurled a spear at David and just missed. Later in life David’s own son Absalom rebelled against him and tried to kill him.

David crossed death’s path many times in his life. No wonder he freely talks about it in many of his Psalms. Listen to David’s anxiety as he flees from Saul, “The cords of the grave coiled around me; the snares of death confronted me” (Ps. 18). In Psalm 23 David talks about walking “through the valley of the shadow of death.” In Psalm 55 David confesses, “My heart is in anguish within me; the terrors of death assail me.” David is a man acquainted with death. His companions died. Soldiers died around him in battle. Others died at the edge of his sword. One of his children died in his own arms. David’s enemies want him dead. David knows that someday he will die. His body will return to dust in the ground. Yet listen to the way David talks to God about death, “You will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let your Holy One see decay” (Psalm 16:9-10).

It’s an amazing confidence that David has in God. David never witnessed the crucifixion. David never heard the message of the angels from the tomb of Easter Sunday as we have. David never witnessed a dead person come back to life. Yet look at David’s faith. Listen to his conviction. David believes in the resurrection. David knows his Savior. David is convinced that his Savior will live even though he dies. David is convinced that because his Savior lives, he (David) will also rise from the grave. Unlike David, we have been to the empty tomb. We have heard the message of the angels. St. Mark quotes them: “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here.” It’s no wonder Jesus isn’t there. As the angel says, “Why do you look for the living among the dead?” Jesus himself says in Revelation 1: “I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever!”

That news of the Easter resurrection of our Lord Jesus changes the way we look at death. That news changes the way we look at the cemetery. Because Jesus rose, we can leave the cemetery after a graveside service with hope of an eventual reunion with our loved ones. Because Jesus rose Easter morning is a tremendous victory celebration. Because Jesus rose our loved ones will rise. Because Jesus rose, we will rise from our grave. It’s the faith of the Apostle Paul, “The trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed” (1 Cor. 15). That is the faith that Job expresses. He says, “I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; I myself will see him with my own eyes—I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!” That is our faith. That is our conviction. That is what makes this Easter celebration and will make all future one great. May the joy of Easter fill your heart each day.

Pastor Stockman