Was I the only one who felt that Easter was ridiculously out of sync this year? I know we’re dealing the changing patterns of climate change and all that, but we don’t usually celebrate it in the depths of winter. I scaled snow-banks in my Easter finery, which did not include spritely pastels or a new Easter bonnet! There should be a least a hint of spring peeping through when we haul out the bunnies and baskets. The last time Easter fell on April Fool’s Day was over 60 years ago; a fairly rare occurrence, overall. Somehow, though, it’s a fitting juxtaposition. From the world’s perspective, only fools base their whole reason for existence on this momentous event.
This has ever been so. The issue of the Resurrection always, and absolutely, separates the religious from the spiritual; hallmarking true believers from mere dilettantes. Death is so powerful an enemy that it takes vital faith to stand against it. Everywhere the tyranny of entropy, chaos and corruption define life and kill hope. Jesus took it all on singlehandedly. In the New Testament, His indisputable raising of Lazarus from four days decay was the final straw for religious leaders to plot His betrayal. Guards posted outside the tomb were bribed to repress the true report of His rising. The Apostle Paul was also brought to trial by the authorities of his day, both Jewish and Roman, on the heart of this same issue (Acts 26:8-9).
Dare to start talking about why you believe in the resurrection and watch the eyes of pagans glaze over. Somehow, it’s fashionable, it’s ok, to buy into the power of ghosts, psychics, spells, incantations, crystals, new-age mumbo-gumbo, or any amount of Harry Potter culture, but talk about where the real glory will be manifest, and you’ve lost them. As Yoda famously said “the dark side is easier, more seductive…”. Lots of people believe in an afterlife, or some form of deity, but put a physical name and a date on the event, (Jesus, third day), and that’s just too much to swallow. Many will assent to reincarnation, but balk over resurrection. Why? The flesh hates this stuff. It takes faith and obedience to enter the equation of life, because there’s actual dying involved. You’ve got to be part of the crucifixion process to comprehend it. It costs us something. Our lives are seeds that must be put in the ground in self-sacrifice, in order to germinate and produce.
You fool! That which you sow is not quickened, unless it dies.” 1 Corinthians 15:36
Unless we identify with the trauma and the cost of the Cross in our practical lives, we cannot possibly grasp the resurrection, in all its complex, multifaceted joy.
…“And why do you think I keep risking my neck in this dangerous work? I look death in the face practically every day I live. Do you think I’d do this if I wasn’t convinced of your resurrection and mine as guaranteed by the resurrected Messiah Jesus? Do you think I was just trying to act heroic when I fought the wild beasts at Ephesus, hoping it wouldn’t be the end of me? Not on your life! It’s resurrection, resurrection, always resurrection, that undergirds what I do and say, the way I live. If there’s no resurrection, “We eat, we drink, the next day we die,” and that’s all there is to it. But don’t fool yourselves. Don’t let yourselves be poisoned by this anti-resurrection loose talk. “Bad company ruins good manners.” 1 Corinthians 15:30-33 Message
We don’t often think about it, but life will be decided on where we stand with the resurrection, not as a vague concept, but as a life-or-death anchor of hope. Is Jesus Lord over life and death, or not? Is He Lord over your life and death, or not? In case we’ve forgotten, the path to glory is through the narrow, compressed gate (Matthew 7:13-14). Resurrection is a dedicated path. It’s not found with the party animals.
It’s been my personal experience that whenever I’m about to enter a new level of freedom or authority, the Lord is going to require the surrender of something I consider precious…a sacrifice of a relationship, ambition, indulgence, habit or dream I dote on far too much. I could tell you of the numerous times I absolutely despaired of a situation turning out the way He said it would, or I wanted it to be! I've learned it’s necessary to stay in the equation long enough for every fleshly source of hope or rescue to expire before your eyes. When ego, self-will and idolatry are truly dead, resurrection manifests to sweep us off our feet like a knight in shining armor. No joy is comparable to the triumph experienced when you have woebegonely released a passionate attachment only to see the Lord return it to you a hundred-fold with His blessing. We know the ultimate resurrection will come, because we experience the microscopic versions of it in everyday life. The same spirit that raised Christ from the dead is within us, so victory is inevitable.
We are the fools of faith, clinging in the storm to the proven hope of this promise. It seems completely mad, but at the word of Jesus, we forsake sensual, selfish, grasping lifestyles all the world swears is the right answer. It’s a big gamble, because if we are wrong, we’re of all people most pathetic (1 Cor 15:17-19), but we’re not wrong. If you need evidence, look to His faithfulness. Without fail, the sun rises in the morning, spring bursts forth after the long winter. Though it happened long ago, the resurrection of Jesus is so shatteringly formidable, we’re still feeling the aftershock. We carry the weight of glory within us. Resurrection power hums below the surface of everyday life, so ride the wave.
“I am the Resurrection, and the Life: he that believes in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: and whosoever lives and believes in me shall never die.
Do you believe this?” John 11:25-26