Sharing Easter

On April 16 we celebrate Easter, the Festival of the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. This festival is the chief celebration of our Christian lives. Everything we do as the people of God circles around the promises of God revealed in the death and resurrection of Jesus. God has called us to proclaim the good news that has called us out of darkness into His marvelous light. So are you able to share with your friends and family the purpose for Jesus dying on the cross and rising from the dead on the third day?

My view of the world is shaped by two truths. The first truth is that my will, reason, and strength turn toward evil. I do not have free choice in my relationship with God. I will not see the righteousness of God through my own efforts. Neither my family, friends, neighbors, enemies, nor I will discover the gift of Jesus by wandering and wondering in this world. To a person lost in sin, the cross and resurrection do not make sense.

The righteousness of God confounds the world because we have too high an opinion of ourselves. Oddly, the starting point for sharing the good news of Easter with someone is the bad news. When explaining Easter to someone else, I think it is helpful to talk honestly about the brokenness of the world. People do not discover on their own God’s gracious love.

In Romans 3, St. Paul explains that all are under sin. “All” is an inclusive statement. There is not one person that has a hint of how to turn toward God. I encourage you to talk about God’s law and also talk about God’s anger at sin. We can be so blinded by sin that we have convinced ourselves that nothing is wrong. So please do not be surprised that Jesus death and resurrection appear foolish and confusing to people. Jesus is the answer to a question that people don’t know they should be asking.

So the first truth that shapes my view of the world is that I do not expect people to just figure God out on their own. It is through the Word of God that the Holy Spirit works to bring us to knowledge of our sinfulness and of our need for redemption. If we want people to understand the purpose for Jesus dying and rising from the dead, then we must speak God’s Word. I don’t have to come up with a great testimonial about my own life to convince someone that God is worth it. I need to share the light of God’s Word because there are people in the darkness. My story is not nearly as good as the story that God is revealing in Jesus Christ.

The second truth that shapes my view of the world is that God knows how depraved we are in our sin, and still He endeavors to have a relationship with us. Our Lord Jesus Christ suffered for us poor sinners. Jesus was crucified, dead, and buried in order that we might be redeemed from sin, death, and the eternal wrath of God. I trust that Jesus has done all of this purely from love. The truth of God’s love is that I do not deserve it nor can I earn it. I deserve God’s wrath and punishment. In Jesus Christ I find the incomprehensible promise of God’s redeeming love for me. Easter celebrates that the love of God is more powerful than my sinfulness.

I hope that you will share with people the painful truth of sin and the amazing truth of God’s love revealed in Jesus. Please do not expect that your children or anyone else will figure this out on their own. Tell the story of Jesus and trust that the Holy Spirit will be at work through you as you share the Word of God.

JesusThruDeath.jpg

Jesus Passed Through Dead — The Resurrection depicted in a modern painting by Stephen B. Whatley, an expressionist artist based in London.

 

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Easter Monday

Today is a day when the sugar high continues as kids continue to ingest candy from their baskets. The sugar high will continue for many parents that sneakily eat some of the candy as they walk by the candy shelf.

The candy from the baskets is going to eventually run out and the sugar low will arrive in many households. The good news of the resurrection will never run out and a spiritual low does not need to arrive in any home.

I love the idea that the victory that Jesus has brought against sin, suffering, shame and death is not just commemorated on one day a year but defines every day of the year. I hope that kids are not going to enjoy Easter candy every day of the year. The Easter candy is going to run out when that sad last Cadbury egg will be bought from the clearance rack at the grocery store. I hope that the Easter hope of life eternal is never just pushed to some sad clearance rack. Every day rejoice that you are a redeemed child of God who lives because you are loved by God.

Easter is Happening

On Easter the women bring spices to the tomb to anoint the corpse of their hope. They said to each other, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance of the tomb?”

The women then look up and see that the stone had been rolled back. I am thankful for that reminder that I need to look up and see that the stone has been rolled back. It is so easy to remain downcast in my view and miss the work that God has accomplished.

Entering the tomb, the women saw a young man sitting on the right side. This young man, this messenger of God, shared an eternal message of comfort, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen; he is not here. But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.”

The stone rolled back, the young man in a white robe, the message of the angel…but in Mark 16:1-8 there is no appearance by the resurrected Jesus for us to see. This abrupt ending in the Gospel of Mark invites the readers to become the witnesses to the resurrection. It is in the community of believers that we share with each other how the story continues. We share with each other that Easter is happening.

In the Gospel of Mark the story of Easter is told with eyes downcast that look up to see the stone rolled back. The story continues with the promise, “he is going before you.”

We go towards the unknown…but we discover that we do not need to go forward with eyes downcast. We go forward with promise.EASTER_2012