Resurrection isn’t just for Easter!

I am writing this article in the week before Holy Week but I am aware it is most likely to be read just after Easter Sunday. If we are not careful the great Easter theme of Resurrection is something we only think about for that one Sunday of the year. The resurrection of Jesus was a once off historical event but it revealed Resurrection as a theme that should underlay all of life for Christians.

Christians believe that the resurrection of Jesus was a unique historical event. Although we may argue about exactly how it might have happened (e.g. physically or spiritually) the fact of the resurrection is essential to the Christian faith. Our faith simply doesn’t hang together without it.

The resurrection was God’s affirmation that Christ’s death on the cross achieved the forgiveness of our sins and enabled us to be reconciled to God. It is because of the resurrection that we can claim that Jesus is alive today and is able to pour his spiritual life into us by His Spirit. Christ’s resurrection is also our assurance that we too will be raised to eternal life with Him.

The resurrection remains a stumbling block to many who are otherwise attracted to Christian faith. They find it just too incredible.

That should remind those of us who do believe just how extraordinary a claim it is. It is one of those things that you only believe because you have to – because it is the only explanation that makes sense of your experience of God. Even Jesus’ disciples took some convincing that it was true!

But sometimes we can be so taken up with debate about this single historical event that we fail to notice the more general truth that it reveals. Everything about who Jesus was and what He did reveals truth about God to us – and His resurrection even more so. It reveals to us a fundamental truth about the way God works in our lives and in our world today. And this is it, stated baldly…

God does not prevent crucifixion, he redeems it through resurrection.

What does that mean? It means that although we generally pray to God to stop bad things from happening God very often allows bad things to happen. There is no shortage of evidence for that in our suffering world! But what God is able to do is to transform even the worst things into something good.

Thus God did not prevent the crucifixion. Although we may celebrate what Jesus achieved through the cross it was a very bad thing in itself. There was no shortcutting of the pain or the evil of it. But, because Jesus faced it with faith, God transformed this genuinely appalling and wicked event into a great triumph of goodness and love. He redeemed it through the resurrection.

So for us God may not prevent our crucifixions. They may take many forms – bereavement; illness; persecution etc. But as He called Jesus so He calls us to face those crucifixions with faith. When we do that it may not numb our pain, but it will open up the possibility of resurrection. We give God the chance to do something extraordinary – to bring good even out of evil.

Often we cannot see where any good might come from (any more than Jesus’ disciples could see any good coming out of the cross on Good Friday) but if we cling to God, however desperately, then God can weave goodness and redemption out of broken hearts and battered lives.

Resurrection is not just something that happened once 2000 years ago. It is the pattern of the way that God has always worked and of the way that he works in our lives and in our world today.

Rev Colin Hopkinson

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