Easter Sunday has long been a favourite of mine. Some of my earliest memories are bright pastels and pretty dresses and a million balloons swirling into the sky, because our church used to release balloons at the end of the service. I remember frantically trying to find a balloon one year, because I had helped distribute them and forgotten to save one for myself. Through tears I watched the balloons fly upwards, feeling desolate that I had missed out on my favourite tradition. (In my defence, I couldn’t have been more than 7, and balloons are a big deal at that age.)
We didn’t hunt for eggs or find chocolate in our house, but this is a holiday that our house has always revolved around, as it is the biggest Sunday service of the year. I always thought our household revolved around Easter because my dad is a pastor, but the older I get, the more I realize that all Christians’ lives should revolve around Easter.
Our hope depends on Easter. Our faith depends on Easter. If you don’t believe me, check out 1 Corinthians 15:17, where Paul tells us that “if Christ has not been raised, our faith is futile,” and we would still be “in our sins.” Evidently, the Resurrection is a pretty big deal.
Christ didn’t just die for our sins, he rose again! This single miracle defies reason, logic, and science by definition. Dead men don’t draw breath after breathing their last. They certainly don’t roam the earth for forty days, performing miracles and exhorting believers before ascending to heaven (yet again defying logic). I mean, what is that? We just don’t even have a category for it.
And what is “it,” really? A professor of mine recently taught on how divisive Jesus is presented throughout the Gospel of John. He stirs up the religious people, he divides the crowds – no one knows what to think. The theme of Jesus being in the middle of things (literally) reiterates itself several times throughout the book, and then, at the climax, he hangs between two criminals on the cross.
The one criminal hurled insults at Jesus and was unrepentant while the other criminal rebuked him, saying “Don’t you fear God, since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.” Turning to Jesus, he said “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” And Jesus promised the man salvation. (Luke 23:40-43)
So listen, I’m not really saying anything here that someone hasn’t already said before me… but I guess I can’t miss this opportunity to ask you which criminal you will be, since we are all either one or the other. As I mentioned before, Jesus is divisive. You have an opinion on him whether you like to admit it or not, and the opinion can simply be surmised in either a “yes,” or “no.”
My answer is, and will always be a resounding yes. I have tried the “no” and it just didn’t really work out. Now, my answer is a wholehearted, full-bodied yes that defines who I am. Jesus is my Saviour and Redeemer, he is the only thing I have to live for. I don’t have the words to adequately describe what Jesus is to me. There is no combination of these 26 letters I have at my disposal that will ever compare to his majesty. No way to communicate the vastness of his love, the completeness of the hope he offers me, or the all encompassing grace that holds me captive at any given moment. Jesus is everything and then some, and praise God for that.
My Jesus surrendered everything for me. He died for a wretch, a lost daughter – a lost cause that he determined worthy of a second chance. A second chance that cost him his life.
He died for a girl who will keep on sinning, who will give into fear more than once, who will choose the world over the One who truly loves her. He died for the girl who gave the kiss of betrayal, the girl who screamed for his crucifixion, the girl who nailed him to the cross – he died for me. For this, I will sing – I will shout his praises to the end of my days.
My answer is yes, and today I celebrate in the Saviour who is risen, the one who defeated death! I have never been able to keep the grin off my face on Easter Sunday. The greatest victory in the history of mankind is celebrated on this day, and I claim this victory as my salvation, as my great hope. I confidently stake my life, my eternity on this one day, on my one God, because he is trustworthy. Because he loves me. Because he is sovereign.
Worship well today, dearly beloved. Our God is worthy.
ps – the title of this blog is a quote from John Dunne’s “Holy Sonnet 10” where he puts Satan in his place because death, his greatest “weapon” if you will, is only a doorway we walk through to wake eternally with the Lord. Jesus has victory over death, and in the end… “Death, thou shalt die.” It’s pretty awesome. Read it!