You may remember that last year was the 75th Anniversary of VE day, “Victory in Europe”. Unfortunately, many of the planned celebrations could not go ahead, because the UK was in a state of lockdown due to the pandemic. However, the state of lockdown could not detract from the historical importance of that event.

There are some places and moments in history that have a special significance. One of those is May 7th 1945 at Reims, with the signing of the unconditional surrender of all German troops. However, it was a day later that the allies declared May 8th to be VE day at one minute past midnight. Two moments that were really one moment separated by a day. The final defeat of the enemy, and the beginning of the victory celebrations.

Recorded in the pages of the New Testament there is another such moment, in fact one that it has shaped all of human history from that time until now.  Jesus of Nazareth had just come through the fiercest battle ever waged, on this earth. A battle on behalf of all humanity. A battle on the cross against death and hell. His last words are It is finished The battle is over. His disciples stand on the battlefield like shell-shocked soldiers. In the previous three years, it had seemed as though the enemy had driven them back completely. Finally, they saw Jesus encircled. They watched him dragged across the city, tried, and crucified. They watched him die, as the enemy closed in for the last blow. Then came the terrible emptiness of the Saturday

A day later in that upper room they were discussing all their fears, all their foreboding, all their speculations. Suddenly, it seemed that all of time had stopped, as the world swung around on its axis. Amazingly it seemed, that as Jesus died the enemy had fallen back, had begun to retreat and had been forced to an unconditional surrender. Now he stood amongst them as the victor. Little more than a day separated that incredible victory from this appearance.

At first they thought it was all a dream, but it was not. He was alive. And that carried tremendous implications, for their own future and lives, and for us who follow him.

Since then all the forces that would drag us down into the darkness have been overcome. Like the defeated army they have no power over the people who stand on this conquered ground.

In that upper room Jesus proclaimed Peace be with you. From then on every year, on that anniversary we call Easter the church has celebrated that peace, that great VE day. “Victory over the final enemy”. The fact that this year we celebrate Easter in lockdown cannot take away the significance and importance of the historical event it looks back to. No wonder the apostle Paul can say with scarcely contained jubilation.

Death has been swallowed up in victory ... Thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (I Corinthians 15.57)


May God bless you and those you love this Easter and into the future