If you are familiar with “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens, you know it begins like this: Marley was dead, to begin with. This must be distinctly understood, or nothing wonderful can come of our story.
Well, to understand Easter, maybe we need to begin in a similar way: Jesus was dead, to begin with. This must be distinctly understood, or nothing wonderful can come of our story.
The story of Easter, which we celebrate this year on April 5th, is only possible because of the events of Good Friday (April 3rd this year). For Easter to happen, the cross also has to happen. For Jesus to be raised from the dead, Jesus has to first die, it’s just that simple. The miracle of Easter is that life comes forth out of death. But not just a pre-death life started over, no, the life that comes out death for Jesus, the Easter life that follows the Good Friday death, is resurrection life. Life that no longer ends in death, but rather life that is eternal, freed from death.
Easter is God’s victory over death. Death thinks it is powerful, death thinks it is final, but now, through the resurrection of Jesus, God dhows death to be a false power, an empty threat, and anything but the final word. God delivers the final word, and God’s word is always the word of life. Easter means that life wins.
We rightly spend a good deal of time thinking and talking about the cross, but without Easter, the cross is really nothing. Without Easter, the death of Jesus is just the death of another good and righteous man. It is Easter that changes the cross of Jesus from just another sad story into the greatest story of joy ever. Easter makes the cross the place of grace and salvation, hope, and mercy. Easter makes the cross a symbol of victory. Easter makes the cross the symbol of true love. Easter makes the cross the place of redemption and deliverance.
Easter is the whole key to our faith. The cross is the work of the world seeking to silence God. Easter is God saying I will not be silenced. Easter is God’s voice ringing out loud and strong – I will not be stopped. I will save my people. I will redeem the world. I will conquer death. I will defeat sin. I will make love triumph.
So Easter is the highlight of our year, the highlight of our faith, and the highlight of our life. Without Easter, there is nothing, but with Easter there is everything. Easter is why we worship, why we gather, why we pray, why we sing, why we praise, why we preach, and why we witness. Easter is why we are Christians. Easter is the message we alone offer to the world. Easter is the good news the whole world is yearning to hear.
Easter is April 5th, yes, but every Sunday is a little Easter, and every day of our life lived in the grace of God is a little Easter. Easter is our life, because Easter is the victory of life. Easter is God’s triumphant “YES!!!” to life, and to us.