According to the scripture, the angel said to the women: “Do not be afraid. I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. But he is not here. For he has been raised.”
From the beginning, the world tried to corner him. To trap him. To destroy him.
When he was still an infant, Herod sent spies to look for him. To hunt him down. To kill him. But he was gone.
When that didn’t work, Herod tried to make co-conspirators out of the wise men who were looking for him. To use them as unwitting accomplices. That failed, too.
So, Herod slaughtered all of the children in and around Bethlehem who were two years old or younger. Surely, he couldn’t survive so merciless and comprehensive an extermination. But somehow he did.
Not long after he entered his ministry, the authorities went after him. They tried to trap him with tricky questions about doctrine. They tried to corner him by manipulating words of scripture. They tried to destroy him by luring him into opposing the power of Rome.
The truth he spoke inspired his followers. But it also made people angry. So, sometimes hostile crowds tried to trap him, to corner him, to destroy him. Somehow, he always managed to slip away.
And then a ridiculous parody of a cornering and trapping: a betrayal in the night, taking him as if he had been hiding from the world when he had been standing on top of mountains talking to crowds. In the marketplace. Hanging around at weddings. At the seashore talking with friends and with mobs of the curious.
We can almost imagine a wry smile on his face when he pointed out that they did not corner him, trap him, capture him. He’d been there all along. Indeed, it was his very presence that unsettled them.
Then a terrible time of reckoning. Mocked. Tortured. Crucified. Killed. And everyone thought: well, there it is; no escaping this time. It seemed finished. It’s all over now.
But, when the stone was rolled away, an unthinkable and unimaginable truth shone out of the dark tomb. Even in death he was not cornered, trapped, destroyed. Even death itself failed to capture him, to hold him, to crush him.
Gone. He was gone.
Easter brings with it many lessons.
I would never presume to tell you how you should think about it or experience it. That’s something to be worked out in a quiet conversation between you and God. Maybe you’re still figuring it out. In many ways, I am, too.
But I will offer this thought, for what it’s worth.
It may be that for you the most important lesson of Easter is that you are never cornered, never trapped, never destroyed. Not while you’re in the care and under the watch of an infinitely compassionate and infinitely powerful God. Which you are.
Just when they think they’ve got you, you’re gone. Not because that’s in your power. But because that’s in his.
Perhaps this is hard for you to believe. Maybe some part of your life has you feeling as if there’s no exit.
An illness. Economic struggles. Bad choices. An abusive relationship. An addiction. Loneliness. Depression. A deep and persistent sadness from a terrible loss.
But when the sun came up on this Easter Day, the One who made the sun and who made this day had something to say to you:
“You are not cornered.
“You are not trapped.
“You are not destroyed.
“You are gone. Gone into my arms.”
The very Creator of the universe knows your name, knows where you are, knows what you need, and knows your way forward.
Open yourself to it. Listen for it. Feel it. Take it in. Embrace it. It is the truth that he promised would set you free.
Good morning, you blessed Easter people.
He is risen.
He is risen, indeed.
And so, by the power and grace of God,