The resurrection of Jesus Christ was preceded by many contradictions. As Jesus entered Jerusalem on a donkey, people threw palm branches and shouted, “Hosanna! Blessed is the King of Israel that cometh in the name of the Lord”. He was later brought before today’s equivalency of a kangaroo court, where a known criminal was vindicated and Jesus was sentenced to crucifixion. His crucifixion was so horrific, it could make a coroner faint.

And yet there is much more to the story. Good Friday leads to Sunday when we hear the great news of Matthew 28:5-6: “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. Come and see the place where he lay.”

In the Bible, there are several accounts of people rising from the dead, Lazarus the most well-known among them. However, eventually, these people died again. Jesus is the only one who died, was resurrected, returned to Earth and still lives.

How do you know?

You will know he lives each time a baby is born. He will come to you as a stranger or a friend with words to encourage you, just when you need it. He will send you signs that only you can interpret. He will speak to you in your dreams. His presence will appear as a pardon instead of a penalty, opportunity instead of oppression, and relief instead of restraint.

A risen Christ means that he defeated death, his enemies and the grave. A risen Christ gives strength to the weak, comfort to the bereaved, justice to the aggrieved and hope to the hopeless.

This holiest of seasons is a time of remembrance, recognition and reflection. This is a time for stillness, contemplation and assessment. This is also a time for forgiveness, making amends and reconciliation.

This is a time to ask ourselves important questions: Am I fulfilling my purpose? Are there broken relationships in my life? With whom do I need to make peace? Do my actions honor Jesus? How do I demonstrate love to my neighbor? How can I be a better person, a better Christian, a better image of Jesus?

Related
What Easter teaches us about suffering

Romans 5:8 tells us that, “But God demonstrated his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” This means that no matter what unflattering, offensive or harmful act we have committed, the death and resurrection of Jesus has it covered. Were we snarky, mean and rude? Covered. Nasty, retaliatory and vindictive? Covered. The list goes on. Greed, idolatry and theft. Covered. Abominations, crime and unspeakable sins. Covered.

The death and resurrection of Jesus was atonement for all of our sins. He paid for them all with his life. His death and resurrection represent a power, presence and promise that if we come to him in faith and ask for forgiveness, it will be granted. With only minutes of life left, just as Jesus forgave the repenting thief on the cross, so he does for us. This translates to a life with less guilt, psychological burdens and spiritual sorrows. It also means that we can wipe the slate clean, start over, press reset, heal wounds and dwell in hope.

Related
Opinion: Easter is the answer to mankind’s many problems

John 3:16-17 states, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” God’s love for us is unconditional, eternal and unending. He sacrificially gave his beloved son, Jesus Christ for our salvation.

Let this resurrection season not be an episodic experience where we hear an annual inspirational message and convene to brunch.

Instead, let’s look within ourselves and see if we have made enough room for Jesus to live within us. Let’s remember the blood he shed for us, the lashes he took for us, the cross he carried for us, the nails he felt for us and the scripture he fulfilled for us. There has never been nor will there ever be another love demonstrated like this. He has indeed risen — just as he said. Hallelujah!

The Rev. Theresa A. Dear is a national board member of the NAACP and a Deseret News contributor.