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Pastoral Reflection: Happy Easter!

One of the things about being a parent of young kids is that sometimes you get to relive your childhood through the eyes of your kids. This is especially true if your child is young. When your child is an infant something as simple as a smiling face can get you excited. My children have taught me that something simple like a box of tissues or a role of toilet paper can be very exciting. Something happens when a person becomes a teenager and later on an adult. On one hand, the good part about growing up is that a person becomes more and more mature. They are able to handle more responsibility and think more about other people. But on the other hand, there can sometimes be a loss of awe.

This unfortunately can be no less true of our faith. There are times when we are so busy with our lives or so distracted by the comfort of entertainment that our hearts become numbed to the awe of the Gospel. This is no less true of Jesus’ Resurrection. Consider this idea: God became a man, lived his life on the earth, was crucified for our sins, and rose again from the dead. Any of these moments in and of themselves would be significant and life changing. But often we struggle not with the information about this event- we struggle with the implications of these events. While many may say we believe in the facts of the event, many of us live our lives as if either it didn’t happen, or it doesn’t really matter. Here are some thoughts on why the resurrection matters:

1. The Resurrection is God’s Way of Vindicating Jesus’ Claims. Once when Jesus was asked what right did he have to do what he was doing and say what he was saying, Jesus said to his detractors, “destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up again”. Later on his disciples realized he was talking about his crucifixion and his resurrection. Paul in his letter to the Romans says that Jesus was, “declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead.” Jesus’ resurrection utterly justified his claims to be the Messiah.

2. The Resurrection Means that We Have a “Living Hope”. Peter in his letter writes to the believers of his day that God has caused them “to be born again into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead”(1 Peter 1:3) . Why did Peter describe the Resurrection as a “living hope”? Because it’s not a dead hope. A living hope is able to do things; it breathes, it is alive, it has power to will and to act. And because Jesus also reigns as Lord over all creation, he is able to guarantee the promises that were made.

3. The Resurrection Means that Our Sins Can Be Forgiven After Jesus was raised, he interpreted the meaning of the events to his disciples. According to Jesus, the Old Testament predicted that the Christ would suffer and rise again from the dead and that “repentance for the forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations” (Luke 24:46-47). Jesus taught his disciples that through his work on the cross and through the resurrection, the Father declared that the Son’s death on the cross was received and that anyone who trusted in Jesus would no longer have to pay for our sin (Romans 3:25, 1 John 2:2).

4. The Resurrection Means that We Have the Promise of Eternal Life Paul tells the church in Corinth that, “Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.” (1 Cor. 15:20) This is significant because the Christian hope is not that our spirits will float in heaven for eternity, but the Christian promise is that one-day we will be physically raised from the dead. Jesus was the first physical manifestation of this resurrection. Because he was raised to life again, anyone who believes in him will share in his victory over death.

5. We are No Longer Slaves to Sin but Can Now Live for Others. There is a power in Christ’s resurrection. How much power over nature does God possess in order to raise someone from the dead? A lot. In Ephesians 1:19, Paul tells that it’s immeasurable. In the same passage, Paul tells us that that power is at work in our lives. Imagine that. The same power that raised Jesus from the dead is at work within our lives. Not only that, we are able to exhibit Christ’s character in our lives. In 2 Corinthians 5:15, Paul writes that Jesus rose from the dead, we are now able to no longer live for ourselves, but to live for others. Christ is displayed in our lives. The things we own the things we possess are not for ourselves anymore, it’s for God.

This is a nice list, but what does this mean? It means that if this is true, you can’t help but live your life differently. If eternity is your destiny, why should we live as if this life was all that we have? If God has approved of us through Jesus, why should we be afraid of what others think of us? If our sins are forgiven in Christ, why do we work so hard to protect our reputation before others? If Christ’s power is at work in us, why do we act as if we can’t overcome our addictions and habits? As believers, we are called to grow in our faith- to strive to trust the Gospel more and more. This Easter let us remember that we serve a risen Savior. He has conquered sin and death. He is not dead. He is alive.