It is so easy for us to become too familiar with the cross and with Easter because it happens each year. Also because we see the message as the “Basics” of the Christian life. Obviously they are that, but the problem is that too often our understanding and our experience of the Cross and Resurrection of Jesus does not change. I think it is because these two events are critical to our salvation and so we don’t allow them to change because that might actually change the basis of our salvation?
Anyway what I want to do is not take anything from that, what I want to rather suggest is that there is a whole spectrum of light within the Easter event that can only enrich what we already know about it, our relationship to it and obviously our relationship to Jesus and God our father.
Last week I said that nothing shapes our understanding of God like what we believe happens at the cross. I would like to add to that this week that our understanding of the cross is incomplete without the resurrection. These last few days as we approach Easter, it might be helpful to meditate on the cross in the light of the resurrection.
One of the things I have realised is that we have separated the Cross from the Resurrection. Sure on Sunday we will have preachers everywhere talk about how Jesus is alive and how that is good news, which it obviously is. However Jesus being alive and what is meant by resurrection are two different things. If Jesus comes back to life that just happens to him, probably because he is perfect, or God’s son, or both. However Resurrection means that what happened to Jesus, a physical resurrection with a new physically transformed body, will happen to us too. My years in church didn’t prepare me too well for a physical resurrection because I was going to heaven when I died, I would get a “spiritual” body and so I didn’t need a new physical one.
It is very easy to come to the conclusion that Jesus is being punished for the sins of the world by dying on the cross, when we view the cross in isolation. However have you ever thought that if this is true, then God is holding us to a higher standard than himself? We are told to forgive, even to forgive our enemies. We know that to forgive means to not punish, it means to release the person, to not exact revenge on that person. However on the cross we hear Jesus say to his father “Forgive them for they know not what they do” and yet God still has Jesus die.
The only way I can understand that moment is in the light of the Resurrection. I don’t believe God required Jesus to die to punish us for our sins. I believe that he answered Jesus prayer and forgave us our sins even while we nailed Jesus to the cross. However I do believe that one of the things Jesus is doing through his death on the cross, is defeating the principal of sin and death and making a way open to the new creation, so that we can live on this earth from a totally new place.
Jesus doesn’t see death and going to heaven as a way to escape earth and all of it’s evil. Rather he presents his resurrection as a new way that we can engage this broken world with the realities of his new creation. I believe he is calling us through the resurrection to not escape to the “safety and pleasures of heaven” but to rather re-enter this world practising new creation realities, physical realities that are empowered by the love of a Father who is reconciling the world to himself.
Would love you comments and thoughts, and I hope and trust that you encounter Jesus in a new and living way this Easter