How many times in your life have you uttered these words in disappointment to a family member, boss or friend: "But you promised!" Worse, how many times have those words of frustration and hurt been thrust at you because of some failure on your part?
All of us likely have experienced the dispiriting feeling of counting on someone, of trusting someone’s word, only to watch the promise melt away like winter’s snow in the spring sun. We’re all human, of course, and circumstances and our own fallibility make it hard to always keep our best intentions or pledges to others. We try, but sometimes we fail.
Yet God does not. Our God has never failed to keep a promise. And this is never clearer than on Easter or more wonderfully illustrated than in the birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
After our fall from grace, God promised to send a Savior to deliver humankind from evil, a redeemer who would help us conquer sin and lead us to the glory of heaven.
God not only kept this magnificent promise but did it in as "personal" a way as possible: "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life," St. John tells us.
Jesus became a living, breathing fulfillment of that pledge to us and of the trust we can place in God no matter what comes our way. "Do not let your hearts be troubled," Jesus told his disciples. "Trust in God. Trust also in me. … I am with you always," he said. And Jesus showed he is "with us" not only in spirit but in a very profound way on the cross at Calvary: Jesus bore for us the weight of all the sins of humanity, enduring horrific suffering so that we might be redeemed.
Jesus knew he could count on God to keep the promise of Easter. In the worst of his agony, he showed his absolute trust. "Not my will but yours be done," Jesus said.
Even at the very moment of his death on the cross, Jesus had the confidence to say to God, "Into your hands, I commend my spirit."
And in God’s compassionate hands, in these hands that have always worked for our good and for our salvation, Jesus rose in glory from the dead.
What an incredible way to keep a promise! God not only redeemed us, but human death itself was vanquished, and all of us gained the promise of eternal life.
God’s promise is still unfolding and we have much to look forward to. For not only will we have eternal life with God, but our happiness in that life will be beyond our ability to comprehend. All the pain and suffering that so troubles humankind in this life will be gone. Our loving God, the Book of Revelation tells us, "will wipe away every tear and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore."
This is why we sing that joyous psalm on Easter Sunday, "This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it!"
For on this day, on Easter morning, the greatest promise ever made was kept, for you, for me, forever.
Happy Easter to you, and peace to all.