The Easter weekend is massive. It represents the crux of the Christian faith. It is a request to us to hit pause on our lives. Where we spend most of our time gazing forwards, Easter turns our vision back to the single focal point of history.
A couple of millenia ago, on a hill outside of Jerusalem, three men were nailed to rough, wooden crosses. Those three men died horrendously agonising – excruciating – deaths. But the man in the middle didn’t stay dead for long.
Now you can have Buddhism without Buddha, you could have Islam without Mohammed. But you can’t have Christianity without Christ.
And you can’t have Christ without the crucifixion and the resurrection.
Laws and rules and paths and journeys – they don’t hang on one person. Anyone could come up with them. But Christianity is different. It is a faith in a living person who died and rose again.
Quite simply, it all hangs on Jesus.
The Apostle Paul says, “if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless.” There it is. The heart of the matter. No resurrection; no faith.
If we could show from the historical record that Jesus didn’t exist, or that he didn’t die, or that he didn’t rise again, we have no faith.
If we can prove that dead people always stay dead and resurrection is totally impossible, we have no faith.
Tim Keller sums things up this way:
“If Jesus rose from the dead, then you have to accept all that he said; if he didn’t rise from the dead, then why worry about any of what he said? The issue on which everything hangs is not whether or not you like his teaching but whether or not he rose from the dead.”
Defeat into Victory
There’s a great line from Chuck Palahniuk in his popular book (turned-into-movie) Fight Club: “Only after disaster can we be resurrected.”
Oh how true this is. We’ve had the disaster; Christ has the resurrection.
The Bible describes this world perfectly. Created for life, with promise and hope, we now struggle in a broken system.
We fell out of relationship with God when we proudly thought we could go it alone, do it our way. Our rebellion came at a cost though and the price was more than we could pay. So God himself came to earth as one of us, as Jesus, to not only show us the way but be the very way back into relationship with our creator.
By dying a death he did not deserve he paid the price we could not pay. The cross – that awful Roman torture device – has become a symbol of cosmic love offered to this world.
And then he came back to life.
Death touches everything and steals from whatever it can. We had no answer to it, only remedies to distract us from it. But like administering Calpol for a broken leg, our efforts made no headway against our greatest adversary.
Christ’s resurrection from the grave shattered death’s hold on us and this world.
This Easter, pause a little. Linger over this event in history which changed the course of this world. Be resurrected out of disaster into new life. The victory belongs to Jesus and he offers it to all of us today.