"We own the finish line!" - Vice President Joe Biden at the memorial service for Boston Marathon bombing victims
Wow. I heard that and said, "That's Easter!"
Death - life's finish line - has never been the same since Jesus blew it away that first Easter morning.
Not long ago, I stood with some Native American friends at the graveside service of their dad who was suddenly gone. And I could say with absolute confidence as the casket was lowered into the grave, "Your Dad's not here."
Because ever since Jesus walked out of His tomb, graves have doors.
A door that opens right into heaven.
So all death can do to those who belong to this death-beating Savior is to take them Home.
Because the Easter miracle is not isolated to one event in one ancient cemetery a long time ago. This conquering Jesus said, "Because I live, you also will live" (John 14:19). And Scripture pulls back the dark curtain of death to reveal that when we are "away from the body," we are "present with the Lord" (2 Corinthians 5:8).
So "Dark King Death," you have been dethroned! My grave will only be my doorway to an unimaginable forever.
Oh, not because that's what I deserve. Quite to the contrary. I deserve to be forever away from the God whose right to run my life I usurped.
But then came those six words when Jesus hung on that cross, paying for my sin.
First, "Father, forgive them." With a self-sacrificing love that's beyond words, He was forgiving me. Sinful, prideful, selfish me.
Then, "It is finished!" His strangely triumphant cry as His life-blood drained away. The bill for human sin had been paid.
My bill was paid.
But I don't have to wait for my expiration date to experience the power of the Easter miracle.
God's great ambassador, Paul, was literally at the end of his rope. In his words, "We were under great pressure...beyond our ability to endure...we despaired even of life...in our hearts we felt the sentence of death" (2 Corinthians 1:8-9).
That's a pretty dark place. A very deep pit. But he found a ladder.
The Jesus who crushed death.
"But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead." When I feel hopeless...desperate...dead inside - I lunge for Jesus. He's my death-reversing Savior! And when there's no me and it's got to be all Him, I get a spiritual and emotional resurrection!
There's a door in the grave. And a ladder out of the pit.
Because of Easter.
We own the finish line.