When the body of Jesus was placed in the tomb on Good Friday evening, it was obvious to all that Jesus was defeated. The forces that were set against him had nailed him to a cross and now he was lying dead on a cold slab of stone.
His disciples had also suffered a defeat. Their hopes that Jesus would establish the kingdom of God and overcome the forces of evil were as cold and dead as the crucified body of their Master.
That Good Friday there was no question that Jesus was defeated. He was beaten down by religious leaders whose status he had threatened, by scribes and Pharisees whose hypocrisy he had exposed.
He was defeated by a Roman governor who had judged it more expedient to condemn a just man than to uphold his innocence. He was defeated by crowds who found free bread and fish easier to take than words about repentance, by the darkness in the human heart that shunned the light, and by the evil in the world that could not permit the good to stand.
The defeat of Jesus is something that resonates with each of us. There are times when we are beaten down and laid low by life. Those times, those defeats, come when relationships break apart, when sickness attacks our bodies, when jobs are lost and we feel worthless.
We are beaten down when age slowly steals away our strength and health, when envy and jealously poison our view of others, when sin darkens the light within us.
We are defeated when our plans are dashed by unexpected events and by a global pandemic, when death robs us of those we love and mocks our future, and when we look in the mirror and see how far we are from being the person we once hoped to become.
But today we rejoice, for as the disciples discovered that first Easter Sunday morning, the tomb is empty. (John 20:1-9) The one who was laid low in defeat has been raised in glory. Christ is risen and with his Resurrection comes the wondrous news that death and all those things that crush us can be overcome.
When Jesus was raised up, we were raised up as well. We were given the assurance that if we keep faith in God, nothing can keep us down forever, not even death. The defeat of Good Friday was defeated by the victory of Easter Sunday. Alleluia! (Written by Father Tom Iwanowski)