As I drive through the neighborhoods, signs are going up of houses for sale. Sometimes I look at those houses, wondering if I will see signs of life. Is it vacant or is someone still living in there? When rescue workers get to the scene of rubble in Haiti, or in Chile, people look for signs of life. Do they hear voices, sounds, anything that would indicate life can be found in the midst of destruction and death? If you had looked, would you have seen signs of life for Jonah as he dwelt in the belly of the fish? Would you have seen any signs of life in Jesus as they took him down from the cross? No!
It was on the third day God caused the fish to vomit Jonah up. The belly of the fish had been his tomb and death a lurking reality. But, by God's grace, he came out very much alive! As Jesus promised, it was the third day when Jesus burst forth from the grave...an earthquake, angels and a stone rolled away made the way so it could be seen Jesus wasn't there. He had risen just as He said! Death couldn't hold him. Sin and Satan couldn't defeat Him. He accomplished what He came to do. He always does.
Sometimes, we look for "signs of life" in a marriage that has flat lined. Sometimes we long for signs of spiritual life in the prodigal who has walked away from God. We may want signs of life when cancer seems to be winning the day. We want signs of life when all hope seems gone. Signs of life are seen Easter morning in an empty tomb, grave clothes without a body, in angels, in good news, in startled women, in bewildered disciples. Signs of life interrupt the thoughts of death. Into despair, hope is reborn. Jesus had risen just as He said.
As we rehearse Jesus' passion this week, we will see Christ in action. We will see people's reaction to Him. We will witness signs of suffering and death. He will face the torrents of evil, His back will be laid bare for the scourging, and His heart will bear the weight of every sin of mankind. We will witness signs of death. Jesus will breathe His last. From His pierced side, water and blood will flow. Jesus will really die. But on the third day, the living Christ will appear, speak, and walk with His disciples, very much alive! The signs of life will be unmistakable.
Look for signs of life during this Holy Week. Look at what Christ does as He enters Jerusalem, in the things He teaches, in the work He accomplishes, in the sacrifice He makes for you and for me. Prepare your hearts for the unexpected. Jesus will demonstrate the power of His resurrection. And, because He has been raised, we have confidence He will raise us too! He can bring life back into a marriage, back into a wayward life, back into a body sick unto death. Christ is living! May people see signs of Christ living in His Church, in you and in me.
God bless you richly in Jesus' name! In Christ, Pastor Bill Hering