Well, Easter has been and gone for another year.
I’m left wondering, as I often am, at the end of the celebration, if we truly understand what it is we are celebrating at this time of year?
Often it is a time for people to get back to church, just because it is one of those important times that they like to go, but there are plenty of services for them to choose from. The big one seems to be the Good Friday service, usually, I think, because it is the shorter service.
I heard this year, about a minister who did two Good Friday services – one on Good Friday, and the other on Easter Sunday!
One of the aspects of Easter that I find the most intriguing is that, if you ask people what it’s all about, they will tell you that Easter is about Jesus dying on the cross.
I feel like we have done a disservice to our faith if that’s all that people think that Easter is about. Yes, it IS about the death of Jesus on the cross, and in our place, and as a payment, as a ransom, and as a conquering king, who won a great victory on our behalf, a victory that we could never win, and who set us free. Who poured out His blood to seal the new covenant.
Those are all true, and wonderful and worth celebrating. But let’s consider the following verse for a second:
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Because of his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead and into an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you.
1 Peter 1: 3-4
Did you catch the wording there? About our living hope? About our being born again? What is it that is so interesting about it? Or these verses from Romans:
Or are you unaware that all of us who were baptised into Christ Jesus were baptised into his death? Therefore we were buried with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too may walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in the likeness of his death, we will certainly also be in the likeness of his resurrection. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be rendered powerless so that we may no longer be enslaved to sin, since a person who has died is freed from sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him, because we know that Christ, having been raised from the dead, will not die again. Death no longer rules over him. For the death he died, he died to sin once for all time; but the life he lives, he lives to God. So, you too consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.
Whenever the writers in Scripture talk about the death of Jesus, they also talk about His Resurrection. This is something that we, it seems, have forgotten to do. We have forgotten that our hope in Christ is not to die and go to heaven, it is not to float around on clouds for all eternity playing our harps, talking, and not doing much else. This is where we have gotten it very wrong. We have, in some ways missed the point of the death of Jesus.
Jesus didn’t die to free us from the power of sin, to reunite us with God, in order for us to sit on clouds forever.
We seem to forget the last part of the story, the part that tells us what it is all about.
I wonder, what would happen if Jesus had NOT come back to life? Would it change anything for you and I in the way that our faith is lived out? Would it change the way that we present the Gospel? Does it change the story in any way?
I like to think it would, and I’m sure that we all answered ‘yes’ in our heads – of course it changes the story! That’s why it’s there!
But why, if our only hope is to die and go to heaven, did Jesus have to rise from the dead, and be a whole person again, with a spirit and a body?
The answer is because heaven, while talked about in the Bible, is not our hope. Heaven is not the end goal, heaven is not our home. Our home, our hope, our ultimate residence is with God – that is true of heaven – but it is with God in a New Creation.
This is what they don’t tell you about Easter. This is why Jesus had to come back to life – because God never intended us to live out a disembodied existence. There is a reason that He created us as physical beings.
Why would He do that if He only ever wanted the spiritual part of us?
Matter, stuff, things, are not a product of the fall. Our universe has always been a physical one, and always will be – because it will be made new.
Are you guys getting this?
I feel like I’ve not explained it entirely very well. I’m going to try and explain it further in another post. Which, because of the fact that Easter only comes once a year, I will post in the next couple of days.
Please chime in with your thoughts though.