Summary: Easter is the celebration of an intersection as well… and intersection of two realms… heaven… and earth. Easter is the celebration of an event… the resurrection of Christ… and all that it speaks of God’s plan for creation… for us.
The Grand Intersection of Easter
Easter Sunday, April 12, 2009 - Brad Bailey
Last week… we looked at the Cross as the remarkable intersection… between the holiness and love of God… between justice and mercy… > Easter is the celebration of an intersection as well… and intersection of two realms… heaven… and earth. Easter is the celebration of an event… the resurrection of Christ… and all that it speaks of God’s plan for creation… for us. It’s an intersecting by which the eternal realm of God settles it’s claim upon the created realm. This morning I want to help us capture the true hope that has come in this cosmic intersecting. I want to help us shift from the cultural ideas of Easter to the grand and cosmic scale of what Easter brings. Of course as one hears the accounts… as we heard portions at the start of our gathering… they begin with anything but hope… in fact they are filled with confusion. They are the accounts of the clueless. They really couldn’t grasp anything because it just didn’t fit their expectations… their ideas of what God was going to do… especially their expectations of a Messiah. Jesus was proving to have even greater power and authority than expected… but what they were waiting for was the promised Messiah to restore the earthly kingdom of Israel. Their story was one of being called to a better land… a promised land… and now in part by their own disobedience… they were in exile or enslaved… waiting for God to restore their national kingdom. They never understood what Jesus said he must do… in dying… let alone rising. They didn’t even like such ideas… more importantly … they didn’t even understand them. To see Christ enter Jerusalem and suddenly become captive by the Romans…. was utterly devastating. To watch the Romans beat him… and then the people mock him.. was beyond confusing… it was disorienting. And to see this all lead to crucifixion… was the most disorienting turn of events imaginable. In the power of Roman control, crucifixion was the ultimate way of declaring that “the Romans run this place” … and the most degrading and humiliating spectacle imaginable. The cross meant one thing… that despite how much they loved him… despite that he may have been their master and Lord who taught them so much… he simply was not God’s final servant. And as for resurrection… it was only thought by some to reflect something God may do in a far distant future. Any study of what Jewish thought was towards any idea of a future resurrection make it quite clear that no one believed in a resurrection that followed after death. The only idea of a resurrection was about something God may do in a far distant future. And so the accounts are filled with lives that feel lost… left with nothing but hope stripped and left in futility. Now something happened on that third day… and whatever happened changed all of those involved… and spread out into the world ... and wherever it has gone it has brought change… a connection to the living and loving God … and His purposes and plans. In recent years… some have tried to suggest that these followers merely came to develop a story that fulfilled their expectations. Perhaps they wanted something to be true so bad that it sort of formed within and around them.
Well, this idea becomes rather difficult for a number of reasons…
• Whatever happened birthed immediately into a movement… historically noted even before these written accounts existed. While the written records may have developed over time….whatever happened changed things quickly..
• Whatever happened so threatened the ruling powers that to proclaim it would lead to a horrible fate. Those who proclaimed it would face execution in the worst way… and they did…. It was an ongoing trail of suffering and death…all because something had happened.
• Whatever happened could easily have been dismissed unless consistent with a wider witness of lives. Even an empty tomb by itself could have meant something else happened… the body had been stolen or the gardener took him… just as Mary first thought…but grave clothes left behind…and then his coming to them in a newly formed body…. that meant something happened that NOBODY expected.
• Whatever happened was clearly not expected by anybody. Resurrection wasn’t even in the mind of the disciples nor did any Jews even believe in immediate resurrection.
In fact one of the most notable aspects we hear… is that Jesus had to explain that they as Jews had missed what the Scriptures and prophets had been seeing. LUKE 24:43-49 (NLT) Then he said, "When I was with you before, I told you that everything written about me by Moses and the prophets and the Psalms must all come true." Then he opened their minds to understand these many Scriptures. And he said, "Yes, it was written long ago that the Messiah must suffer and die and rise again from the dead on the third day.” > What happened on that third day after being crucified… was beyond anything that they had understood or expected. The resurrection was and is an expansive moment… that involves the defining intersection between heaven and earth. They were focused on merely having their Jewish nation restored…”Let us be free from being enslaved… oppressed.” > When life is hard… it’s natural to just want God to fix what is in front of you. But what was at hand was something so much bigger. God was not going to simply restore Israel… he was going to fulfill what Israel was called to be… the bringing of God to restore all humanity. They were a people in exile.. waiting for God to give them another chance… to have a glorious nation once again. But God was establishing something so much bigger. Just as Jesus had transformed the Passover meal three days earlier… when he took the elements that reminded them of God passing over them in judgment… and stating this would now be fulfilled in his body and blood… he was now fulfilling the greater restoration from enslavement and exile… that ALL who live in this created order share. What happened on that third day was confusing because they didn’t see the bigger picture… they hadn’t understood that this was not simply about restoring a nation… it was about restoring God’s eternal purposes and plan.