Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. (1 Peter 1:3-4)
Some of Jesus’ closest friends while he lived on earth were the siblings Mary, Martha and Lazarus. When Lazarus was sick, his sisters sent for Jesus, hoping that he would come to heal their brother. But Jesus tarried and Lazarus died. When he came for the funeral, Mary and Martha were heart-broken that Jesus hadn’t preserved the life of their brother. In the awkward moment when Jesus met the grieving Martha, she stated the obvious. If Jesus had been here, Lazarus would not have died. The pain of their loss could have been averted. But Jesus had something even better in mind. “I am the Resurrection and the Life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies, and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.” (John 11:25) We need to see past the suffering and disappointment of this present era to take note of what God is really doing. The resurrection promises real life, as life was meant to be lived. Real life is characterized only by that which is good, true and beautiful, and never by that which is flawed or corrupted. Life in the new heaven and new earth will not have sickness or sadness. There will be no tragic stories or sad endings, no bitter tears or physical defects. The resurrection means the abundant life that Jesus promised in John 10:10. Not the material blessings of this life which are temporary at best, but the true, spiritual abundance that awaits us in eternity. Romans 4:25 declares that Jesus was delivered over to death for our sins, but he was raised for our justification. We are declared righteous, adopted into his family, and promised a glorified body at the end of all things. True life awaits in the best of all conceivable circumstances. This promise is the triumph of the gospel and all that is planned for us. The resurrection is the true answer to the problem of our sufferings. It is God’s unsurpassed power, which puts death to death and ushers in the first moment of eternal life. Jesus is the first fruits of that eternal life, which is promised to all who believe. Jesus’ resurrection is the first moment in what will be an eternity of unopposed goodness and joy. This is what Easter is all about. This is what Easter means. The resurrection is the good news that a weary world desperately needs. We really need Easter. We have always really needed Easter. It’s the best news that we can imagine.
Here is an audacious verse that can sound completely tone deaf unless we remember who it is who wrote it and the context of all that I have described. Paul, who was beaten, stoned, shipwrecked, imprisoned and ultimately executed, says “For our momentary, light suffering is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison” (2 Corinthians 4:17). For Paul and many others, the evils of this world are not “light and momentary”, that is, until we compared them with what awaits. Our troubles are temporary, but heaven is forever. And the trials of this world, though often desperately tragic and fierce, are like particles of dust when compared to weighty substance of heaven. Even coronavirus is a fleeting feather compared to eternal heftiness of all the beauty and wonder that is in store for us. Christ is risen. He is risen indeed. The amazing promises of Easter are just what we all truly need. May the power of the resurrection, the reality of the death of death and the triumph of eternal life give us Easter joy the year round.