As I sit and write this reflection, it is a snowy day in Colorado. I find myself longing for spring. The warmth of the sun, the budding of trees, chirping song birds, and the beginnings of the green that shouts life is on the way. In fact, according to the calendar, spring is already here, but outside winter is still holding on. It feels like the signs of spring should be here already. I am more than ready for their appearance. One thing that encourages me is that Easter falls squarely in this season and is nearly here. Like the signs of spring, Easter too shouts that life is on the way.
As I read through the Easter account in the Gospel of Matthew, a few things shout out this message to me.
The Cold Winter
Mary Magdalene (and others) headed for the tomb where Jesus’ body had been laid as the sun was just beginning to rise. She had been there a few days earlier when winter, in its cold harshness had descended upon Jesus and the life drained from his tortured body as it hung on a cross. She had been there when Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus had enfolded Jesus’ lifeless body in burial linens with myrrh and aloe. And as she came to the tomb early in the morning on the first day of the week, she was expecting to find the continuation of winter. She expected to find his lifeless body just as they had left it. She expected and intended to honor him by anointing his cold, linen-wrapped body with spices.
The Warmth of Spring
But nothing was as expected. Winter was receding. The earth shook. A brilliant, shining angelic being descended to roll back the stone, the heavy seal of death that had encased Jesus body in the tomb. The unexpected event caused the hardened Roman guards to fall to the ground as if they were dead. Unlike the soldiers, Mary, who was seeking Jesus, experienced something that could not have been more distinct. She heard the angel proclaim that he was resurrected to life no longer to be found among the dead. She saw an empty tomb. Jesus was not where they had left him. The burial cloths he was wrapped in were no longer binding death to his body. Hope began to spring forth and warm her heart. Spring was in the air for those who were seeking it!
And then, the fullness of Life appeared. Jesus, the Resurrection and the Life, stood before Mary. Winter was no more, and spring was in full bloom. Mary was so overcome with life that she fell at his feet to worship. Amazingly, the life of spring was not just for her. Jesus made her a messenger of life as he told her to go and tell the disciples to meet him in Galilee where they would see him – where they too would see him with their own eyes and feel the warmth of springtime.
Chosen for Life
Like Mary, and the disciples, we are chosen for life. Spring, everlasting Spring, is given to us. We are those who seek him and those who see him. And when we do, we cannot help but fall down at his feet and worship him who is life. He is the one whose angel opens the tombs of winter. He is the one who ascended to life so that we too might spring up with life. Life is his and it blossoms afresh when we seek him. And like Mary, we are called to be messengers to others – to call out, “come and see him who is the Life. Come and feel the warmth and life of everlasting Spring.”
Yes, there are still seasons of winter, and death is still part of this world. But spring reminds us that death is not the end and does not have the final say. There may be snow outside today, but spring is here and so is life. Jesus is the Life, the Risen One. We who long for Spring and seek him do not fall down as dead men like Roman guards – we are not stuck in winter – it is not our destination. Instead we fall at his feet and worship him who conquered death and gave us life. So springs the glory of eternity.
More about Gill
One Challenge is blessed to have mission pastor Gill, and his wife Karen, at OC International for over 20 years. They have served as OC workers in Asia, and they are now based at the U.S. Mobilization Center in Colorado. In 2020, Gill took on the role of mission pastor to encourage, pray, counsel, and walk alongside OC workers in their ministry journey together.
More Spiritual Formation Resources
We are One Challenge mission workers serving the whole body of Christ by developing a new generation of leaders. The Holy Spirit is always inviting us to know God more and do the work of becoming who God has designed us to be.
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