Summary: Easter is all about new birth and new life and second chances. It is a contrast between death and life, sin and holiness, darkness and light.
April 12, 2009
He is risen. Resurrection. Easter. New life. New birth. Second chances. Fresh starts. Spring flowers. This is what the Easter season is all about. It is an exciting time. It is the bringing forth of life out of death. It is the end of the cold and snow that makes the trees lose their leaves and the vegetation turn brown. It is when the spring flowers push through the muck and dirt to burst forth victorious in an explosion of color and smell.
It is the empty tomb. A tomb that could not contain God is now empty. It is the resurrection of Jesus that marks the promise of kingdom resurrection for all those who believe and seek to serve the Lord.
This is the first Sunday of the Easter season, a celebration of life, that last to about mid-May. It is not just one day. It is forty days of celebrating life, abundant life that is found in Christ.
One of the things that makes Easter Sunday so special is that it truly is a contrast between death and life. Sin and righteousness. Brokenness and wholeness. Emptiness and overflowing abundance.
As I meditated and prayed on the Resurrection scriptures, I was struck with a phrase from John 20 that says, “No one yet knew from the Scriptures that he had to rise from the dead.” Jesus had to die. And Jesus had to rise from the dead as well.
Three people arrived in at the Pearly Gates. Peter welcomed them in and informed them that they would need to first go through a brief orientation class.
“To get started, let’s do a little ice breaker so we can get to know each other. Tell what you would like your friends and relatives to be say at your funeral.”
The first woman said, “I would like to hear them say what a great doctor I was and how much I loved my family.”
One of the men spoke up, “I would like to hear that I was a good husband and that I changed a lot of lives as teacher in the public schools.”
The other man quickly followed by saying, “I want to hear them say—‘I think he jus t moved! Look everyone he’s alive!!!’”
Without death there can be no resurrection. Without the crucifixion there could be no ultimate victory over sin and death. And Jesus shows us that the same is true in our own lives.
This message is simply entitled, “Resurrection.” No clever word plays. Just keeping it simple. Resurrection. Because this is what Easter Sunday is about. But we must remember that resurrection has two parts. It starts with death. It starts with darkness. There can be no resurrection without it.
Unless we first deal with the price the resurrection costs, then it really becomes empty and meaningless. It is what a great theologian, pastor, preacher called cheap grace.
For with facing the darkness and the death and bleakness, we travel through this valley of the death. We travel through the shadow that hangs over us fearing no evil. Facing the agony of the cross and the tragedy of our own mistakes, our own transgressions, our imperfections, out sins.
Without death, we have no sense of the price that is paid. We have no sense of the great cost and the great sacrifice that resurrection needs to exist. We don’t realize the immense value that our God places upon our love and our lives. We tend to be superficial in our spirituality.
Psalm 51 describes this. David looked at his life and he saw himself as he truly was. He didn’t blame others. He didn’t make excuses. He said, “I know how bad I’ve been; my sins are staring me down.”
It is a concept that is often called brokenness. He has recounted his life. He has prayed and meditated and considered all the wrongs that he has committed, the ways he acted out in anger, the people he hurt. And he concludes that every time he hurt others, then he was walking all over God. He said, “You’re the One I’ve violated, and you’ve seen it all, seen the full extent of my evil.” And then he says, “I’ve been out of step with you for a long time, in the wrong since before I was born.” Not that he was guilty as an infant of sin but that somehow this potential was there and has been plaguing him throughout his entire life.
And now he was willing to face it. He was willing to deal with it. He was desperate for God to help him. He was willing to do whatever God wanted. He says, “Whatever you decide about me is fair.” He also pleads, “Scrub away my guilt, soak my sins in your laundry.” Then later he adds, “Soak me in your laundry and I’ll come out clean, scrub me and I’ll have a snow-white life.” He knows that God wants what is best but first he has to face the death and darkness of his sin. “What you’re after is truth from the inside out. Enter me, then; conceive a new, true life.”