The Odessa Record -

Pastors' Corner

Easter triumph, Easter joy

 

April 20, 2017



Much happens around Easter. Adults hide eggs, and children hunt passionately for them and the candy they hold inside. People spend significant amounts of money on that candy, as well as other gifts that may or may not fit in Easter baskets. At some malls, children can even sit on the fabled Easter bunny’s lap to tell him what they want for Easter.

Much is also written about Easter. Some atheists write disparagingly against those who would even consider celebrating Easter. Other writers decry the consumerism of bonbons, baskets and bunnies. Some pastors will even write imploring those in the area to attend church services over the Easter weekend.

This is not one of those pleas.

Recently, I read an article about Easter in which the author asked various pastors in Texas about their understandings of Easter. One said, “The point of the resurrection is not whether a dead body was raised long ago, but whether the body of Christ can be raised into new lives of compassion and courage as we follow the risen Jesus.”

The problem is, Christians have believed exactly the opposite the past 2,000 years. The point of Easter is, in fact, that Jesus bodily rose from the dead. Every Easter account written has something physical about Jesus’ resurrection. The disciples grab Jesus’ feet. Jesus eats with his disciples. Jesus tells his disciples to see and touch his crucifixion wounds. Peter wrote that Christians were “born from above into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1 Peter 1:3). Paul wrote that the Gospel, the “good news,” which Christians believe is centered in the truth that Jesus was raised bodily from the dead (1 Corinthians 15). Even Jesus himself, predicted that he would be raised physically from the dead.

Why does all of this matter? It matters for a great many reasons. Most of all, however, it matters because, if Jesus was not physically raised from the dead, he is a liar. Indeed, our faith in him and his Word would be useless. Paul says as much in one of his letters. “If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins” (1 Corinthians 15:17). If Jesus was not physically raised from the dead, nothing else of what I believe or do would matter.

That is a harsh, even offensive statement. But, it is true. Christianity is not a philosophy about how to live your life (though life in Christ does affect how you live). Christianity is not about some vague understanding of “love” triumphing over our culture’s understanding of “hate” (though true love comes only from God). Christianity certainly is not about taking over the world through force or government coercion, as in some religions. Christianity is the reality of God’s triumph over sin, over Satan and even over death, through the death and bodily resurrection of Jesus. It is the realization of the hope God gives to us in Christ – that just as Jesus was raised from the dead, so too will we be raised. It is clinging in faith to the promise that, just as all was made new and better for Christ, so too will all creation be made new when Christ comes again in glory. If Jesus was not raised from the dead, nothing else matters.

But, Christ has been raised from the dead! And in that truth, we can find surpassing confidence and joy. Alleluia!

 

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