“’Don’t be alarmed,’ he said. ‘You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him’” (Mark 16: 6)
As we enter the week of Easter it is important to remember the one critical fact that marks Easter as the single most important event of Christ life. Easter is NOT about the death of Jesus Christ!
It is true that in dying he became the perfect sacrifice for our sin. It is also true that in dying, he took on his body all of our imperfections, sicknesses and diseases. It is also true that when he died the curtain in the temple was torn from top to bottom, signifying that the ‘holy of holies’ – the very throne room of God – was now open for business to everyone, not just the chief priests.
In Jesus death we see our sins forgiven, and in addition to that we see physical and spiritual healing, and we see a complete restoration of our relationship with God. Jesus himself said at his death that his work was now finished. “When he had received the drink, Jesus said, ‘It is finished.’ With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.” (John 19:30)
So given all this, how can I possibly say that Easter is NOT about the death of Jesus Christ? It’s simple really. It’s about his resurrection not his death. “And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.” (1 Corinthians 15: 14)
Why? Because if Christ is did not rise from the dead then – although we can experience all that Jesus achieved on the cross – it has no long term benefits to us. If the Son of God did not rise from the dead then nor will we, and if we don’t have eternal life then Jesus sacrifice has a used by date. It is only good while we are still on this earth.
God is about restoration and new life. Nothing about him is temporary. Hence the greatest work of God is in the resurrection of Jesus and new life God gave him, and offers to us. “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1 Peter 1: 3)
On Monday I was diagnosed with severe and advanced Ankylosing Spondylitis. I feel like I am walking around in a graveyard at the moment. All I seem to be aware of is the decay of my body. I am meditating closely on today’s passage and although I can’t begin to comprehend it, I can’t help but feel that in all this disease and illness, I am alone.
But this passage tells me not be afraid. Yes, in all this I am trying to find Jesus, but I am looking in the wrong place. He is not in my death and decay, he is in my health, my new life, and my wholeness. He is risen. He is calling me to rise too.
This Easter I will not remember Jesus on the cross. I will not remember the tomb where he was buried. I WILL acknowledge his sacrifice, but my largest focus will be on his resurrection power, the same power he has given me.
Like Jesus I choose not to wallow in my pain, humiliation and death – although Jesus has been there – I can see where he lay – he is there no more. Instead I will remind myself of his resurrection life, eternal, whole and full of power.
This is Easter! This is my new life! This Sunday I will shout for praise because he is risen, and therefore so am I!