“Why do you seek the Living among the Dead?” (Luke 24:5)

Happy Easter!

Translated by Minwagaw Temesegen

As written in Exodus, 12:21-28, this day is called Pascha, the meaning of which is crossing over. The day is commemorated for the Israelites who were freed from slavery in Egypt to the Promised Land in Canaan. In the New Testament the day is called Easter, a holiday celebrated in the memory of our LORD Jesus Christ who conquered and defeated death by His own death and freed the human race, transforming them from death to life and sleaze to glory. That is why we call it the Resurrection of Jesus. In this text, we will read about Easter from St. Luke’s word of GOD at 24:5.

 “Why do you seek the living among the dead?” (Luke. 24:5). This question was posed by the Angel of God to the Holy Women, who went to his grave early in the morning. The Holy Mothers, who spent days and nights with Jesus Christ, listening to the words of His mouth and looking at the miracles of His hands, went early in the morning to the sepulcher, avoiding the fear of the guards and of the darkness. While, the Angel of God asked them this question and then the Holy Women remembered what Jesus said three days ago about His resurrection. Then after, they went to the Holy Apostles and told them what they saw and heard. They spread the good news about Jesus’ resurrection. The Holy Apostles, then, clearly understood that He is the God of the living, not of the dead. Afterwards, they taught to the whole world about Jesus’ being the Son of God, about His passion and resurrection, and about His sitting in the divine throne equal to the Father and the Holy Spirit.

Easter is one of the main feasts celebrated in the name of Jesus. It is known as the head of all feats by the church fathers, for it was on this occasion that the hope of the holy fathers and the prophecy of the holy prophets were fulfilled. The passion and death of Jesus Christ; the Savior is not a simple piteous occurrence; it is a living truth. The teaching of the Holy Apostles on the resurrection of Christ is the foundation for our church. Thus, in our Liturgy, we clearly declare that as we die with Christ and also rise with Him. We always preach His passion, His death, His resurrection, His ascension and His second coming. At the Easter is changed the cry of pity with the melody of happiness. On this day, the church wears in white and chants hymn of delight.

It is known that Prophet Elijah and his disciple Elisha made the dead arose. The daughter of the head of a temple, whose story is written in Matthew 8:14, the son of the poor woman in Nain, whose story is recorded in Luke 7:12, and Lazarus, whose story is read in John 11, all were arisen from grave. Furthermore, on the Good Friday, when Jesus separated His holy soul from His holy flesh by his power and authority, many (between five hundred and six hundred) were arisen from the dead. However, all of them died again. Jesus’ resurrection is very special from all these. His resurrection did not need any agent; He did the resurrection by His power and authority. He resurrected from the dead with never-dying, never-changing flesh that he would not have any second death and second resurrection. As St. Paul, the light of the world, said it in the 1 Cor. 15:23, Jesus is known to be  the beginner of our resurrection because, He arose from the dead, conquering death and corruption (with undying and unchanging flesh), defeating death with His own, winning the spears of death and looting all the possessions of Hell. Moreover, St. Paul in Colossians 1:18 called Jesus the beginning, the first born from the dead.

The Word of God Jesus Christ, our benevolent of salvation, with His passion and death has given us the power to defeat death and Satan. In order to perish the power of the Devil and to save the world He created, the Son of God Jesus Christ came to this world in the will of His Father, of His Own, and of the Holy Spirit. The owner of glory Jesus Christ crucified Himself on the Cross and died in flesh but living in divinity. The Son of the Living God died in flesh to destroy the power of the Devil; He died to destroy death and to save the dead from the ever-lasting death. The One who sits on the back of the angel spent three days and three nights in grave. Going to Hell Himself in spirit, He freed the souls of Adam and his children who were under the yoke of the Original Sin. Just like He told the holy disciples and the holy apostles, He arose from the dead in His power and authority. With this, He conquered, dismiss death and corruption in the sepulcher; He also became the beginner of our resurrection like He resurrected from the dead (Col. 1:18). He revealed our resurrection with His resurrection. He turned us from death to life. The Sun of Righteousness Jesus Christ gave us resurrection to our flesh and life to our soul. Alike as He taught us in John 11:25, He is the resurrection and the life; He is the source of our life.

When celebrating Easter, then, we should bear in mind that Jesus is the God of the living, not of the dead. The angel told the women near the sepulcher, Jesus Christ has been present among the living; He is not present among the dead. Adam, our father, because he wished Godhood and ate the forbidden tree, which he did not deserve, died for a reason, flesh and spirit. In addition, he was sentenced to go to grave in his body and to hell in his soul. Death of the reason is living in sin. As St. Paul, the chosen instrument, said in Ephesus 2:1, “And you have he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins,” to live in sin is to die; moreover, as the apostle taught us the wage of sin is death. The death of the flesh is the departure of flesh from soul. The death of spirit instead is the departure of soul from God. In the contrary, resurrection can be seen in three aspects: resurrection of the reason, of the flesh, and of the spirit. As resurrection of the flesh is returning to God through repentance, resurrection of the flesh is like the daughter of Jaures and like Lazarus who arose from the dead, died again and will rise in the general resurrection. Resurrection of the spirit, on the other hand, is standing on the right side of Jesus in His second coming.

It is impossible to meet Jesus and live with Him without repentance and without participating in the Eucharist. The conqueror of death and the owner of life Jesus Christ will be with us, and we be with Him, only when we take the Holy Communion that was given in the Calvary Square. We should celebrate Easter participating in the Holy Communion, not with the meat and blood of animals. What should worry us, therefore, is not the absence of the earthly food we buy with money, but what should worry us more is our not taking of the Eucharist from the Lamb of God. Easter is the feast on which we receive Jesus and invite Him to be with us by the resurrection of our reason. Therefore, we should participate in the Holy Communion while celebrating Easter.

Christians who believe in the resurrection should get closer to God, to the One with stretched hands for love, and approach Him in confession. Let’s take the Holy Communion being God-fearing and loving, as a result of which we get the resurrection of the reason. Then we stand in glory on His right hand during the general resurrection. We inherit the Kingdom of God that was not seen by eyes of the flesh, not heard by ears of the flesh and thought by heart of the flesh. The Son of the Living God, whose Kingdom is eternal, with His life-giving death, changed our death to life and revealed His resurrection and showed us the light of the resurrection. St. Epiphanius of Cyprus in the book he called Anchor said, “In His resurrection, we narrate the mystery of our own resurrection.” As the holy fathers who met in Nicaea wrote, “We believe in the resurrection of the dead and in the life to come.” The Living God Jesus Christ took us closer to His heavenly Father so that we live in Him. He ruined the Wall of Quarrel made between Him and us. He opened the door of repentance with His Holy resurrection. Our Savior Jesus Christ, with His redeeming death, opened the gate of Heaven, and He gave us Hs fruit, i.e. the Holy Communion. Therefore, in order for us to be living, let’s take this Holy Communion. In order to forbid death from governing our life and so as to get the resurrection of reason of the soul, let’s celebrate Easter performing good deeds to the needy.

As we celebrate Easter, we should avoid absolute fall of the spirit and shame through not eating and drinking too much, not dancing and committing a variety of sins. Let’s be aware, therefore, not to be caught with the snares of sin. Not to lose the hope of resurrection as a result of sin, let’s wash our body with confession. Let’s be faster to get the resurrection of reason. Let’s help the poor, share from what we have, and ask the sick so that we could be given back two fold in the general resurrection.

May the mercy and kindness of our Savior Jesus Christ be with us. May the absolute faith of our fathers and their winning good deeds grant us to inherit the Kingdom of GOD, Amen!

Source: Amharic text by Priest Solomon Wondimu at www.mahiberekidusan.com/amharicwebsite/