Easter: The Center of Our Faith
- Understand why Christ's resurrection is central to our faith
- Believethatthe resurrection gives us hope
- Celebrate Christ's victory over death and sin
It's typical for Christians to say something like, "Jesus died for my sins." Now, that statement is true, but the problem is that it's inadequate. If Jesus had only died for our sins, then we would still carry their burden. Jesus' death was not enough to save us. The cross, as powerful and poignant as it is, is not the center of our faith. It's all about the empty tomb.
Paul says it clearly: "If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins" (1 Cor. 15:17). If Christ has not been raised, Satan wins, death remains undefeated, and all hope for the future dissipates. If Christ has not been raised, then the last word on Jesus is: "My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?" Not only that, if Christ has not been raised, then death has the final word. Or, as Paul, again, puts it, "If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people to be most pitied" (v. 19).
Easter means that God did not abandon his Son and did not abandon the world he sent him to save. Easter means that death no longer has us in its iron grip. Easter means that no matter how bad things get in our lives and in this world, there is hope. Christ is risen! Alleluia!
Easter is the decisive victory that guarantees God's claim on this world as his own kingdom. That seems like a mirage when we look at our world on an ordinary Easter morning. Today doesn't look anything like this total victory. Wars rage, children starve, and cancers invade.
The point of Easter is not that everything is alright, but that this event guarantees that everything will be alright. As one theologian put it, Easter is D-day in God's battle against the powers of evil. It is the decisive victory that guarantees the final outcome. The victory is already in our grasp, but it is not yet fully realized.
Jesus' resurrection sets in motion a long chain of events that will culminate in God's complete and final victory over the powers of darkness. These events will lead to Christ's return and "then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority, and power . . . so that God will be all in all" (vv. 24, 28).
Paul was addressing a persecuted minority who clung to a tiny faith community in the vast power monopoly of the Roman Empire. Yet, amazingly, he asserts that what happened that Easter morning makes all the difference in the outcome of human history. The rest is just a mop-up operation.
So, what does that mean for our daily lives? Paul answers with his often-overlooked summary at the end of this amazing chapter. After all the astounding and exciting things he has affirmed about the resurrection of Christ, he says, "Therefore . . . ." This "therefore" is the "so what" of Easter for us. "Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you [shake you up]. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain" (v. 58). Easter means we've got work to do, with joy, energy, and, above all, the hope and confidence that whatever we do "in the Lord" will not be in vain, but will be part of God's eternal kingdom.
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