The cross of Christ is an abyss of wonders, the center of human desires and the school of true virtue. Here, at a place of supreme sorrow, there is the root of joy and everlasting life. It is a stone of stumbling to some but it is salvation to all of those who believe. Here we see God's wisdom, goodness and power. Indeed, here we see his mercy and anger displayed in the same event. We see man's sin and we see our infinite value. We see a man who loved the whole world and a God dying for mankind. Mystery of mysteries.
But today we celebrate the resurrection. Jesus' resurrection was foreshadowed in the Old Testament and anticipated by those who saw him raise the dead. The resurrection of Jesus demonstrates God's power more than any single event in all of human history. And it is the sole ground of hope for all believers.
I am amazed at the minor role that most Christians seem to give to the resurrection, at least in their daily experience. Paul says of Jesus: "He was handed over to death for our trespasses and was raised for our justification" (Romans 4:25). We argue about a lot of Christian doctrines. including the nature of how God justifies us, but this is the really BIG one. This is what it is all about. If Jesus Christ is not raised then we are still in our sins. If Jesus Christ is not raised we should forget about Christianity altogether. This is the BIG event, period!
A few weeks ago a pastor told me a story about a women who came to him for spiritual help. He said to her, in the course of his counsel: "Christ died, Christ was buried and Christ was raised. Now he is alive!" She said, "Would you say that again?" He repeated himself. She then said, "No, I mean the last part of what you just said." He said, "You mean the part when I said: 'He is alive.'" She said yes! She then began to repeat this and thus said over and over, "He is alive." Her whole countenance was altered. She was born from above right then and there in front of the pastor's eyes. She walked out of his office and began to speak to the secretary and then several others, stopping each one and asking, "Did you know that he is alive today?"
May you know the same wonder she experienced as you consider this great celebration day that we call Easter!