This Easter finds me in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan working with a church as it seeks new leadership for its next phase of ministry. Part of my work involves providing leadership for the Sunday Services — planning, speaking, or arranging for Sunday speakers. This year, it is my privilege to lead the church through its celebration of Easter. After being engaged with the church this month for some 16 days or so, I will be leaving the City on Easter Sunday night for an 11-day break at home in Prince George, BC. Today, Saturday, I have the opportunity for some quiet reflection on my own experience of Easter.
My dominant thought as I approached Good Friday this year was the sheer profoundness of the day. Thankfully in Canada, Good Friday is still a statutory holiday. This in itself is a significant reflection of the nature of Canadian culture — with its regard for Christian sacred traditions. In America, since it is not a legal holiday in most states, Good Friday does not appear to hold the same significance. I am very thankful for this Canadian tradition despite the fact that most Canadians, undoubtedly, pay little attention to its meaning.
From a Christian perspective, the events celebrated at Easter occupy centre stage in the context of world history. That is because they represent the climax of the earthly life of the most important Man in history. If his entrance into the world is cause for the most extravagant Christian celebration, his monumental accomplishments in the events represented by Easter are worthy of even greater attention. Yet the general population seems to be oblivious to this reality. No doubt, this is due to the relative sense of ignorance regarding the meaning of the Easter story.
I have been struck, this year especially, with the absolute horror of how this Perfect Man could be subjected to such cruelty and shame at the hands of the ones to whom he had given life in the first place. I have been thinking of the magnitude of this crime from the perspective of who Jesus was and is — the Creator and Sustainer of the entire universe, the One who has lived from eternity past in the very presence of God, the One who has perfect knowledge about any subject of which anyone could ever conceive. Yet it is this Man who is mocked by the very existence of a human trial, resulting in the greatest miscarriage of justice that the world has ever witnessed. What could possibly justify such an event from the divine perspective?
There is only one answer: the depth of human depravity and God’s willingness to provide justice at the highest possible cost. It is impossible to understand the events represented by Good Friday except in the context of some small appreciation for the terrible plight of the human situation. Jesus’ trial and death is at once the best commentary on the seriousness of humanity’s offence against God while also demonstrating the huge heart of God for His fallen creation. Everyday, even apart from seeing it like God sees it, we are reminded of how bad things really are. Good Friday recounts both the magnitude of humanity’s rebellion against God as well as the grandeur of God’s goodness.
And then there is the Resurrection which we celebrate on Sunday morning! There are signs of God’s victorious power in the actual dying of Christ (like the veil of the temple being torn open from top to bottom at the time of his very last gasp), but the significance of what Jeus actually accomplished on the cross reaches its full expression in Jesus’ resurrection from the dead! So quickly, relatively speaking, the victory of Jesus over sin and evil is shown to the world. So emphatically is Jesus’ conquest of evil demonstrated!
The resurrection of Jesus is not merely an example of Jesus power over death; it is a huge statement of the victory of the cross! The resurrection of Jesus is a token of promise for a future resurrection for everyone; but it is much more. It is the most powerful evidence that God could have ever given, that Jesus has conquered sin’s power and is able to live His resurrected life in all who believe and receive His gift of forgiveness. The beauty of the resurrection of Jesus is that any who are willing can appropriate His resurrected life for victory over sin’s power in their own lives on a daily basis.
The Resurrection of Jesus truly does release the power and authority of His kingdom upon earth. Though there will yet come a much fuller expression of this victory, even now, we can experience the affects of the resurrection of Jesus. And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of[ his Spirit who lives in you (Romans 8:11 — NIV).
This is Easter — the juxtaposition of heaven and hell, the bed-rock of the triumph of good over evil, the introduction of actual divine life into the very soul of a formerly rebellious and depraved man. That is me!