1.Acts 10: 34,38-42
2.Colosians 3:1-4
Gospel: John20:1-18

                                 "  Halleluiah, Praise the Lord!"

The story is told whereby a certain kindergarten teacher was telling her students the story about Jesus. In her class there was a little boy who came from a non-Christian family. He was paying very close attention to the story because it was all new to him. As the teacher narrated how Jesus was condemned and nailed to the cross to die the boy's countenance fell and he murmured, " No, that is too bad!" The teacher then went on to tell how on the third day Jesus rose from the dead and came back to life. The boy's eyes lit up with delight and he exclaimed totally awesome!" On Good Friday we heard the story of the suffering  and death of Jesus. Like the little boy many of us felt like" No that is too bad!" Today we hear the rest of the story and again with the little boy we can now exclaim "Yes! Totally awesome!" Today we can again sing " Halleluiah" that we have not sung all through Lent. This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad( psalm 118:24).

Dear brothers and sisters today we rejoice because of our faith in Christ has been vindicated, truth has triumphed over falsity, justice over injustice and tragedy has turned into comedy. Jesus was falsely charged of crimes he did not commit, and unjustly sentenced to a death he did not deserve. His good friend betrayed him, his trusted companions deserted him and his number one man denied him. The people he loved demanded his crucifixion and chose to have the bandit Barabbas released in his place. What can we learn from the name Barabbas? when we try to analyze the word Barrabas we see the following. The word Barrabba is the sum combination of the words Bar and Abba, the word Bar signifies the Son, and the word Abba signifies the Father, therefore, Barrabbas means Son of the Father. Jesus also is the Son of the father. Therefore, Barrabba and Jesus were both sons of the fathers. However, Barrabbas is the son of the earthly father and Jesus is the Son of the heavenly Father. Thus people in demanding Barrabbas to be released implied that their option was for the son of the earthly father than the son of the heavenly father. This in fact is the story of betrayal and lies, dishonesty and meanness, unfaithfulness  and wicked violence directed against an innocent and apparently helpless victim. All this comes to a head on Good Friday when we see Jesus scourged, mocked, led on the death march, nailed to the cross where he dies after few hours and hastly buried in a tomb. If that were the end of the story that would be a bad story, a tragedy. But glory be to God it is not.

The significant question for all of us is, " Do I really believe that Jesus Christ rose from the dead? He was in a tomb for approximately 48 hours. Up today there is no other instance recorded in the history of the world which indicates someone is crucified, dies, was buried  and came back to life after 48 hours in a tomb. Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead but Lazarus didn't have anything to do with that miracle. Jesus was the force that caused his return life.  Our faith, our salvation, our everyday living depends on our answer to that question, " Did Jesus return from the dead?" It's so important because all of His teaching  is based on the fact that  He prophesied that he would die but that He would be resurrected. That would happen because He was the Son of God. If we don't believe in the resurrection, we can't believe in all of the other teachings of Jesus Christ. We have to question everything that Jesus taught while He was on earth. However, if we believe it happened then the Commandments He taught, His teaching on " love thy neighbor," everything included in the gospels and the parables must also be true. It must be true for the children in grade school, the teen ages here this morning , the adults and the senior citizens.

Death is not the end of the story, it is just an apostrophe, there is one more chapter. This is the most important chapter because, as the saying goes, they who laugh last laugh best. And in the last chapter of the story of Jesus we see him rising from the dead in all glory  and majesty. He is vindicated. His enemies are shamed and confused. Jesus regains his eternal glory with the Father. He is the Lord who will prevail over all humankind, his enemies included. For us his embattled followers this is good news.

As we celebrate the mysteries of our faith, passion, death and the resurrection, it is good to know that truth is immortal. We can suppress Truth, accuse it of being a lie, condemn it, torture it, kill it, bury it in the grave but on the third day Truth will rise again. Remember this  and do not give up on Truth even when everybody seems to give up on it.  Do not give up on truth, do not give up on justice. Do not give up on doing what is right. True will always be true. Just will always be just. Right will always be right even when the world around us would have it otherwise.  We must learn to believe in the sun even when it is not shining, knowing that it will shine again. Thus it is the end of the story that counts. That is the reason per why the church asks us today to rejoice and be glad. Even when we are going  through very difficult times: trough betrayal, unjust discrimination, lies, misrepresentations; even when the enemy seems to be winning  the battle in our lives. Today Christ has won. And we know that in Christ we shall overcome death. Halleluiah, Praise the Lord!

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Chapisha Maoni