That’s right, friends… it’s April 8, the biggest “church day” of the year, where people everywhere put on their freshest Sunday best, new suits, new dresses, and those oh-so-cute little suits for the kids and come to church. It’s the day where pews are filled far more than usual. After all, it’s EASTER. That’s when you’re supposed to do the church thing, right?
Well, by now, you know me well enough to know that I’ll always throw a kink in the works of traditional expression. I come from a bit of a charismatic background, and I know some folks who absolutely loathe the word “Easter.” They claim it’s a pagan word. Okay, whatever. But what’s the point of this holiday? Is it for our fashion, our doctrine, or is there something more to it?
In a word, it’s about grace. In fact, I think most of the major points of our historic Christian faith are centered on grace. The specific expression of grace in this case is the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the grave. Every year would bring TV specials about the life of Jesus. One of the most widely seen was the ABC miniseries “Jesus of Nazareth,” which even today remains among my favorites. Alas, we don’t see it aired much anymore except on TBN. In its place, we have the ultimate religious movie… The Ten Commandments. Okay, so Yul Brynner makes for a cool Pharaoh. But, I digress.
The resurrection is easily one of the most important core doctrines of our faith. Of course, it’s also the most challenged. We’ve had some recent news reports that claim to have found the grave of Jesus, his wife Mary (Magdalene) and their kids. This was big news. Oh, well it was for a few minutes.
One of the greatest promises of the Christian faith is centered around the resurrection. Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 15 that it was so important that if it wasn’t true, then we as Christians are to be pitied. You know, I don’t know about that alleged grave. Frankly, I really don’t care. It’s a fascinating story, and brings out a whole plethora of “what if” questions. None of them mean diddley-squat to me.
Faith, hope, and love. Those are the three most important elements of our relationship with God. Combined, they are “grace.” I say that the resurrection is an expression of grace, because it literally shows the glory of the grace of God by sealing our fate… our eternal fates… with the removal of a single stone.
Of course, that grace does not mean that we have to worry about whether or not we’re going to go to heaven. It’s a powerful message for all of us that the “same Spirit who raised Jesus Christ from the dead is inside of” all of us (Rom. 8:11). God has literally empowered us as Christians with the very same Holy Spirit who gloriously raised Chris out of that tomb.
So often, we get caught up in the violent manner in which Jesus died. Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ” is one of the bloodiest films ever put to celluloid, and its death toll was only three (Christ and the two robbers). The entire movie was centered around the beating, crucifixion, and death of Christ. Sure, it’s a powerful image. And yes, the message is “he went through this for YOU.”
But geez… take away the spiritual message, and you get a gory slugfest that shouldn’t be anywhere near the “Family” section in the DVD racks… let alone the “Children’s” section (which is where I found it in a local store). We’ve been so obsessed with violence, gore, blood, and the death of Christ… that we’ve literally forgotten the message that the resurrection brings:
In Christ, death brings life. It’s never the final chapter. In fact, it’s just the beginning. Every seed that is planted must die before it bears fruit. And then it will bear much fruit (John 12:24). In short, the resurrection brings hope where there was no hope. It brings healing where there is pain. It brings life where there is death. And finally, it brings faith where there is doubt.
In this season, let’s focus on the glory of this great wonderful event and realize its promise to all of us: The same spirit that raised Christ from the dead is inside of you. So what are you going to do about it?