Reading: Nehemiah 8:1-18
Focus: Nehemiah 8:10
Nehemiah said, “Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”
I love that this is the reading for Easter! “Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” It just doesn’t get much better than that on a day like this.
Do you see the parallels between this event and the events that surrounded Jesus’ death and resurrection?
In today’s reading, Ezra is reading the law – the truth – and the people are mourning. They understand that they’ve sinned, and they understand the consequences. How much must it have meant to them to hear “do not grieve” spoken by Nehemiah, Ezra, and the Levites!
Fast forward to the days that Jesus was on earth. The people were miserable, but even with all of the prophesy, miracles, and real “Jesus is standing next to you” proof, it took lots and lots of people until the day Jesus died to realize who he was. They realized their mistake and sin, just as the people of Israel did, and they mourned. His friends mourned, and were still in mourning when they went to his grave on Sunday morning. Imagine their joy when they learned that Jesus was alive!
Matthew 28:5 & 8
The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said.
So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples.
We read here that Jesus is risen, just as he said – the truth. He has taken our punishment and overcome death! We no longer need to mourn, but instead can be filled with joy today! We can “enjoy choice food and sweet drinks” and celebrate the joy of our risen Lord, our forgiveness, his sacrifice and kept promise, and our everlasting life!
So, on this holy day, let the joy of the Lord be your strength! Happy Easter, friends!
God, thank you so much for Easter! I know that I am undeserving and that the consequence of my sin is death, but I also know that my debt has been paid by Jesus. My heart is full of joy, knowing that this is a direct reflection of your love for me. I love you, too. Help me to show it well. In Jesus’ precious name, Amen.