Growing up in church, Easter was always just assumed to be a special day. But, I never really understood why. All the important work was done on the cross, right? It was cool and all that he rose from the dead, but so what? Every song that crescendoed at him rising from the grave perplexed me.
By the grace of God, I've been a Christian pretty much all my life. But, as any Christian who's been at this for long enough can tell you, there is always something you don't understand, and always some new facet of the gospel that God is teaching you. In many ways, my college years were not just for higher academic learning, but deeper theological growth. During that time, the Spirit of God started pulling weeds and nurturing seedlings that had been neglected. It's an ongoing process, and I'm so grateful for it.
Around that time is when I started getting serious about Easter. WHY did everyone make such a big deal about this Resurrection thing? (Remember, this event was, for me, simply a given fact. I grew up with it, and my intellectual familiarity with it meant that it did not feel all that strange to me.) I worked my way through the Gospel of Mark one Spring semester, and during Holy Week I read accounts of the respective day's events across all four gospels. With all that lead up beforehand, feeling like I was getting to know a beloved story character (and remembering that he was a real man with real friends and real family)--with all that, I finally began to feel the weight of the Last Supper on Maundy Thursday. The sting of his betrayal. The anger of his mistreatment while on "trial." The soul crushing grief and anguish of his death on Good Friday. And then the emptiness and loss and longing on Holy Saturday.
And then! Then!! HE WAS BACK!!! The best friend, the wisest teacher, the kindest heart, the purest soul, the Son of God, the promised salvation had come BACK!!! The joy was so overwhelming! He would never die again. Happiest day!!! I had asked and sought, and I praise God for that truth and inexpressible joy that I found.
That was one of a few events around that time in my life that I can point to as being truly pivotal in my understanding and love of God. Easter has never been the same, though it is usually not as intense an experience as that time in college. But I'm still learning, and the Spirit continues to nurture truths that I've known in my head for years, coaxing them to grow deeper into my heart.
Today, because of churches livestreaming during quarantine, I had the privilege to hear the resurrection story three times, each time presented by a different person with a slightly different perspective. I'd like to share what the Spirit showed me this year during today's Resurrection Sunday sermons.
- "Jesus didn't just die for us, he ROSE for us." The cross and Christ's death is crucial. But the story doesn't stop there. Everything Jesus does is to glorify God by making a people who worships the One True King in spirit and in truth. That applies to his resurrection, too.
- Because of Christ's resurrection, we have a living hope. That hope never fades or fails, and is never at risk of being taken from us. (1 Peter 1:3-9)
- The hope which is so secure is this: Jesus is the firstfruit of a new creation (1 Corinthians 15:20). Our hope is that we are, and are becoming, and will be part of that new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17). Because of that, every aspect of our lives is being transformed, past, present, and future. And in the last day, the transformation of God's creation will be completed, down to the molecules (Philippians 1:6).
- Jesus died to settle our eternal debt. He rose to begin fulfilling the promise of salvation and new creation. He ascended to sit at the right hand of God, a place of honor, power, and favor; in his new place, he continually intercedes for us and grants us access to this place of unprecedented favor with God. Not only that, but at Pentecost following his resurrection, he sent the Spirit of *God Himself* to live inside of us, to give us power to be active participants in the glory of God's kingdom, and to make our lives full to the brim for the glory of God.
Wow! What a wonderful Savior!!
Brothers and sisters in Christ, I hope that some part of my story speaks to you. I hope you felt something new in your heart that increases your joy in our incredible Lord and Savior.
And to those of you who may not know what in the world I'm talking about, or understand why all these Christians make such a big deal over Easter, to you I say two things. First, wow, thank you for reading this far. Second, if you have questions, I've got ears. And, God willing, I might even have some answers.
Happy Resurrection Sunday, everyone! He is risen!!!