Letter: It’s winter outside but spring is coming!
The calendar says Spring — ya, right! Outside tells a different tale. Snow drifts, minus temps belie that announcement. Last year we were raking lawns by now. But hope “springs eternal,” the sun will do its job and the big melt cannot be far away. It’s winter… but, spring is coming! No amount of snow right now can dissuade the inevitable. Little kids might not be so convinced grass will grow again. Is this an endless winter? How can we convince them that spring is coming? We tell them other winters have melted into spring. We assure them by expert (meteorologists) pronouncements: modern history never missed summer. We point out signs like the lengthening days and the intensity of the warm sun on our faces. The clues are there to see. Yes, winter is here…but, spring IS coming!
A nationally known pastor once preached an Easter sermon entitled, “It’s Friday, but Sunday is Coming!” His message described the passion Jesus endured through his betrayal, arrest, trial, abuse, ridicule and rejection, Pilate’s verdict, the agony of his suffering on the cross, tragic death and burial. Between each portion of this horrible account he would interject, “It was Friday, but Sunday’s Comin’!” What was coming? The Resurrection!
Jesus foreknew the winter of his suffering and death at Calvary. “See, we are going up to Jerusalem. And the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and scribes, and they will condemn him to death and deliver him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified, and he will be raised on the third day.” Matthew 20:18-20 ESV.
He would bear the judgment of sin leveled upon us. He would take upon himself our cross and be executed there for us. The tomb was his destination, and the cold stone he was to be laid upon was the same temperature his lifeless body assumed. It all happened on that terrible Friday. But in the midst of death’s winter, life sprang up in the resurrected Christ on Sunday! He came forth from the grave with all the vitality of a warm and budding new spring day, the winter of death far behind him, never to touch him again.
Corrupted, sinful humanity exists in a cold, never-ending winter of death. There is an old German saying that seems blunt and harsh, yet the saying is true: “When you are born you are old enough to die.” Whether we live a few hours or decades, our living carries the wintery shadow of death. It is not just physical death — it is eternal condemnation for sin and separation from God.
We cannot escape our fate; that is, unless an outside force bursts in upon our Winter to give us Eternal Spring. Jesus offers us just that. He comforted Martha with hope when her brother was rotting in the grave. Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” John 11:25-26 ESV
Jesus completed his statement with a question. Your answer to that question can unlock winter’s door to let the sunshine in; “Do you believe this?” He proved his statement was true by raising Lazarus back to life in this world. But more importantly, Jesus proved his absolute power by the evidence of his own eternally empty tomb, and gifting eternal life to all who believe in him, springtime forever in the loving presence of our heavenly Father.
No other religious figure in history has boldly stated he conquered death, much less leaving the grave to prove it. Through him, by our repentance of sin and faith in Him, we also become victorious. When the women went to the cemetery, hoping to open the grave for anointing Jesus’ lifeless body, they were startled to find Jesus not there. But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay.” Matthew 28:5-6 ESV. Winter is here…but, we are invited to repent (turn away) from our sins and follow the living Jesus into an eternal spring that is coming for His followers. Do you believe this? For those who trust in Jesus: Good Friday came, but Easter Sunday now is ours forever! — Pastor Jim Osvold, Detroit Lakes