Summary: A look at Easter through the eyes of Genesis and Revelation.
Joyce Hollyday tells the story of a schoolteacher who was asked to work with children in a large city hospital. Another teacher, knowing that she had been assigned to the hospital, called and requested that she visit a child who had been in her class. The teacher took the boy’s name and room number, and was told by the teacher on the other end of the phone: “We’re studying nouns and adverbs in class now. I’d be grateful if you could help him with his homework, so he doesn’t fall behind the others.” What the teacher did not realize was that the boy was in the hospital’s burn unit. She was unprepared to find a young boy horribly burned and in great pain. But she knew that if she fled from the room that it would frighten the boy, and so she began somewhat awkwardly, “I’m the hospital teacher, and your teacher sent me to help you with nouns and adverbs.” The boy was hardly able to respond because he was in so much pain. It seemed so senseless and heartless that the teacher could hardly force herself to go through the lesson. But the next morning a nurse on the burn unit asked her, “What did you do to that boy?” And before the teacher could say anything, the nurse said: “We’ve been very worried about him. But ever since you were here yesterday, his whole attitude has changed. He’s fighting back; he’s responding to treatment. It’s as if he has decided to live.” Later, when the boy had recovered somewhat, he said that he had completely given up hope until he saw the teacher. He realized something very important. He said: “They wouldn’t send a teacher to work on nouns and adverbs with a boy who was dying, would they?”
The message of Easter is that we are going to live There is hope for us. Jesus came to us, not to perform last rites, but to give us life. God would not have sent Jesus to rise from the dead if we were going to die and stay in the grave, now would he? We will need the lessons he came to teach us. Life may have wounded us, but Jesus came to heal us. He said, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10). Easter tells us that life is not over; the story has not ended; the best is yet to come. This is not the end, it is the beginning. What is ending is the night, the confusion, the dysfunction. What is beginning is the day, the solution, the answer. Jesus’ triumph over death has opened the door to eternal life and eternal joy.
The human story begins with such disaster. We read about in the first book of the Bible. God had created a beautiful world full of good things and meaningful opportunities. Relationships were so real and transparent the first people were naked and unashamed. Their relationship with God was unspoiled and intimate. The world was a place where only good existed — except for one evil personality which made the couple question the goodness of God. You know how the story goes from there. The Satan gets them to question God, and they choose to do the one and only thing which God has asked them not to do. They hardened their hearts against God. They rebelled. They wanted to know and experience evil, regardless of what it would do to them. (Is any of this sounding at all similar to the world today?) There were two trees growing in the middle of the garden: the tree of the knowledge of good and evil from which they ate, and another tree — the tree of life. If they ate from that tree they would live forever, and so would evil, so God banned them from the garden and the tree of life. The Bible tells the story this way: “And the Lord God said, ‘The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever.’ . . .After he drove the man out, he placed on the east side of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life” (Genesis 3:22 & 24). Thousands of years came and went as the descendants of the garden couple wandered in exile from paradise, living East of Eden. We gained the knowledge of evil, and lost the knowledge of good.
And into the despair and hopelessness of the world, Jesus came. One day he entered a garden as he commenced his work to restore the breach between the human family and God. From the garden he made his way to a tree. He would die on that branchless, barren tree, and as he died, he would hold out the gift of eternal life with nail pierced hands. Now, as broken, wounded sinners, we can eat of the fruit of that tree of life and live forever. Every time we partake of communion, every time the fruit of that tree touches our lips, as we partake of the blood and body of Jesus Christ, we eat and drink the gift of eternal life. The tree is no longer hidden or barred from us. This was made possible by Christ, for as the Bible says, “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: ‘Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree’” (Galatians 3:13). But this forgiveness was not merely a legal transaction, its intent was that we should be new people. Hear the words of Scripture which say, “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed” (1 Peter 2:24).