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Ask A Pastor: Resurrection, So What?


Q: It is not hard to notice that Easter, the day we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus, is not quite the celebration that Christmas is.  So, what is the significance of the resurrection? 

A: In this season that we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, we often spend a great deal of time defending the reality of the resurrection.  This historical event is absolutely critical for our faith, no doubt.  But on a daily basis, what difference does it make?  How does it make my day, my relationships, my work, and my play different?  So what that Jesus rose from the dead—What is the big deal?

We can look at it on a theological level and say that the resurrection was God the Father’s glorious stamp of approval on the sacrifice Jesus made for our sins.  It validated everything Jesus did and said.  It also means that, because of the resurrection, my justification, my perfect standing with God the Eternal Judge, is settled.  I am accepted, approved, and enjoyed.  No more divine enmity.  No more condemnation.  Rather, I now am the target of the Judge’s passionate and unending delight.  That truth is life-changing.  It gives me a freedom that goes deep and causes joy to gush up from the core of my being.

On another more daily level, though, for me the resurrection is huge.  It means death is ended, and life is coming.  It is a promise to me that my death is not the end of the story, nor is it even an extremely bad thing.  Death is swallowed up in life, and in that new life, all things will be made new.  Internally, that gives me a joyous hope. 

Life on this side of heaven is a process of dying, and not just physically.  Daily my flesh, that part of me that insists on self-control, self-autonomy, self-sufficiency, and self-determination is steadily dying.  Through His Spirit, God the Father is opposing my flesh and putting it to death.  He does that through exposing my sin and shame.  He brings my sin to the surface in ways that are very hurtful to other people.  My self-determination is the source of so much emptiness, thirst, and dissatisfaction.  I absolutely long for the day when my struggle with sin will end and this painful process of dying will be completed, because I know what lies on the other side.  The resurrection of Jesus guarantees that life is coming—new life, resurrected life, eternal life, gloriously joyous and free life!  I can’t wait until that day comes.  In the here and now, I wait in certain hope because Jesus rose from the dead.

On another level, daily I experience the pain and frustration of death that is physical.  I live with a very dear woman who is almost 92 years old and who suffers with dementia.  She can no longer do the simplest things in life.  She is helpless as she waits in abject confusion and darkness until the day of her final departure.  But this is not the end of the story.  A day is coming when she will leave the darkness of this life behind, and with clarity of mind like she has never had, she will rejoice in the fullness of her resurrected life.  She will know fully.  She will remember.  She will praise the One who was raised from the grave.  Jesus said He would make all things new, and the resurrection was simply the first step in that wonderful journey, a journey of hope for all who trust in Him. 

So, what difference does the resurrection make?  Everything.  Because Jesus came up from the grave, I do not go through my days without hope.  I am moving towards something that is so good, so much better even than Christmas, that I can’t wait for it finally to come.