The most tragic reality of last Easter and too many other Easters is that so many people spend holidays like this alone, with no human connection; 2020 was agonizing because it brought funerals where loved ones couldn’t gather to mourn loss, empty bedsides where those gasping for air were denied comforting touch, and long months when the elderly were isolated from meaningful community.
Humans are intensely social creatures, not made for isolation. On Good Friday, we can see in the agony of Jesus in His dying moments a true loneliness we are spared from experiencing. Jesus – the blame of humankind’s worst evil thrust upon His sagging shoulders – felt the cold shoulder of the Father, who turned His face away. Jesus was alone so you would never be alone and could enjoy communion with the One who created you.
He felt the sting of isolation so you could be baptized into a body of believers in Heaven and earth. Jesus took upon Himself your sins so you could enjoy intimacy with your Father. He is the One who broke through the sting of death, who defeated sin, and who ushers you into communion with God.
To the grief-stricken sisters of Lazarus, Jesus gave this promise:
“I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die”
(John 11:25 NIV).
Jesus isn’t only predicting that He would rise again. Jesus is saying more than that: He is the resurrection and the life. And this is why everything we say and believe hinges on this one reality. It separates Christianity from just another fantasy or religious exercise. Tish Warren writes poignantly, “It’s painfully clear that the Resurrection is either the whole hope of the world – the very center of reality – Christianity is not worth our time.”
This Easter we are declaring that it is worth our time because the Easter story is declaring that Jesus put death to death. It means that the curse that takes mothers and fathers, husbands and wives, children and grandchildren, coworkers and neighbors isn’t eternal.
Consider the words of Paul, the educated, elite religious leader who once thought this new Jesus movement was a dangerous fad and a fool’s errand. After his own encounter with the risen Jesus, he writes passionately in the most eloquent apologetic for Easter, in 1 Corinthians 15, why Jesus’ resurrection changes everything:
But as it is, Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead also comes through a man. For just as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive.
Easter means those who are in Christ will be made alive, spiritually and physically. It means there is a new world dawning that is better than the old one. It means there is something afoot in the world. In the words of N.T. Wright, “Jesus’s resurrection is the beginning of God’s new project not to snatch people away from earth to heaven but to colonize earth with the life of heaven.”
Perhaps it’s hard to make sense of it all, in the midst of whatever hardship or difficulty you are facing at the moment. The world, perhaps your world even, seems as upside down and unstable as it has ever been. But if the resurrection really happened, then it means this reality isn’t forever.
Easter is the sign that a new world is coming, that one day God will take rotted dust particles, ravaged by disease and decay, and will reconstitute them into real, physical bodies fit for eternity. This cycle of pain and sadness, viruses and death has an expiration date.
Excerpted from The Characters of Easter: The Villains, Heroes, Cowards, and Crooks Who Witnessed History’s Biggest Miracle by Daniel Darling (© 2021). Published by Moody Publishers. Used by permission.
This Easter, have your church discover the unlikely people caught up in the story of Jesus. Transform your church into The Characters of Easter theme! Download a free Church Series kit of digital files at this link, including:
- Sermon Notes and Research
- Invite cards
- Presentation graphics
- Digital slides
Author Bio: DANIEL DARLING is the Senior Vice-President of Communications for the National Religious Broadcasters (NRB), and a regular contributor to several leading evangelical publications, including Christianity Today, Homelife, InTouch and others. He has authored six books, including Teen People of the Bible, The Original Jesus, and The Dignity Revolution. Dan is a teaching pastor at Green Hill Church in Mt. Juliet, Tennessee and lives with his wife and four children in the Nashville area.