What Easter Started
User's Guide to Sunday, April 8.
Sunday, April 8, is Easter Sunday.
Acts 10:34, 37-43; Psalm 118:1-2, 16-17, 22-23; Colossians 3:1-4, or 1 Corinthians 5:6-8; John 20:1-9
We love to tell and retell the lessons of Christmas: God loves the poor, a baby changed all the world’s plans, and the angels told the shepherds to expect peace on earth.
But Easter is a greater feast than Christmas, even though its lessons aren’t as picturesque. We hear the consequences of Easter all year long, but it might be helpful to zero in on three of them, just as a quick refresher:
1. Easter started peace on earth.
The first enemy of peace on earth is death. Before Christ rose from the dead, death was a shadow land of uncertainty. Whether or not resurrection was even possible was a heated debate among Jewish believers.
But Jesus said: “I am the Resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me, even if he dies, will live.” Today, he proved it.
The second enemy of peace is suffering. We wonder why we suffer, why a good God allows suffering. Jesus answers by suffering with us, and then opening up to us the enormity of eternity that overwhelms our suffering.
In fact, God never delivers on the Christmas promise of “peace on earth” except through the Resurrection.
2. Easter started the Bible.
Easter started the Bible in two ways: First, Christians had a burning need to write down every detail they could think of regarding the Holy Week story. They had that burning need because the Resurrection transformed that week from a humiliating defeat to a world-changing victory. From that first effort, the New Testament was born.
Second, Easter started the Bible because it is due to the authenticity of the paschal accounts that we believe the Bible at all. These accounts present the apostles not as heroes, but as doubters and bumblers who resisted and rejected the Resurrection until the evidence of their senses forced them to believe.
Easter transformed the life of Christ from stories about a colorful prophet into stories about how God behaves in — and redeems — the world.
The story of Jesus has power and life in it because we know who Jesus is: He is God. And we know that because Jesus rose from the dead.
3. Easter gave us the God of love.
If we had never heard about Christianity and were told that God became man, was crucified, died and buried, and then rose from the dead, what would we expect? Vengeance.
We would expect God to wipe his killers off the face of the earth. Defending himself would properly show his power and show his enemies the consequences of messing with God.
But after the Resurrection, we see who God really is: He suffered and died at our hands because he knew it would intensify our love for him. And when he returned all he wanted was to make us love him like he loves us.
Wishing you a blessed and holy Easter!
Tom and April Hoopes write from Atchison, Kansas,
where Tom is writer in residence at Benedictine College.
- April 8-21, 2012