Well, what a surprise. Vladamir Putin re-elected with a landslide majority. Whoever would have thought that would happen!!

I’ve had some lovely surprises in my life as well, but I’ll mention just two here. There was my call into Christian ministry of course. The thought of becoming a pastor simply wasn’t on my radar. In fact, it was more of a shock than a surprise! Then there was the day I returned home to find a substantial monetary gift on the hall floor with a note that said, ‘For a family holiday’. It was an amazing answer to prayer but just one of the many such surprises that remind me that I serve a ‘gloriously predictably unpredictable’ God.

All of which brings me to Easter. Just try to imagine how the first disciples were feeling on that first Easter Sunday morning. Their hopes dashed; their dreams shattered; the previous three years must have seemed utterly pointless. I think their attitude can be summed up in the words of the disillusioned disciple who was making his way to a village called Emmaus. ‘We had hoped he was the Messiah who had come to rescue Israel’ he told the stranger who joined him.

Little did he realise that the stranger wasn’t so much ‘a dead man walking’ as ‘a resurrected man talking’. All that changed when they sat down for a meal though because he and his companion suddenly realised they were talking to Jesus Himself! 

They were not the only ones to be surprised either. Earlier that day Mary had discovered the tomb was empty and the man she encountered was not the gardener but the very same Jesus she had seen brutally executed three days before. Thomas the despondent sceptic found it hard to believe Jesus had come back to life too until He suddenly appeared and showed him the crucifixion marks on his transformed body. And then there was Saul of Tarsus, a man who was utterly determined to get rid of the early church. He was certainly not expecting to hear Jesus speak to him either, but He did and as a result he became one of His most fervent followers.

My call into Christian ministry was life changing, but to be honest, everything really changed for me, as it should for any Christian, when much to my surprise, I came to the conclusion that Jesus is alive. As someone has rightly said ‘Christians are Easter people’.

But what does it all mean?’ If you want an answer to that question, I suggest you could do no better than ponder the writings of Oscar Cullman who used the analogy of D Day and VE Day to help us understand the implications of that momentous weekend. The first Easter, he argued, can be compared to the successful D Day landings when the Allies established a secure beachhead on European soil, guaranteeing the end of Hitler’s brutal regime. But of course, the fighting had to continue until victory was finally secured.

As Christians then, we are assured of the final victory, but until Jesus returns and our VE Day arrives, we must do all we can to extend His Kingdom. But be sure of this: God will constantly surprise as we do because He is able to do the most amazing things. Easter Day is proof of that.