What’s the Big Deal about Easter?

What’s the Big Deal about Easter? In our American culture of today, Christmas is a bigger holiday than Easter. Thanksgiving is a bigger holiday than Easter. Halloween is a bigger holiday than Easter. For some, the Super Bowl, the Indy 500, and the Daytona 500 are bigger than Easter. For some, the first day of deer hunting season is bigger than Easter. Many people don’t even get a day off from work for Easter. Some people think it’s just a kids’ holiday where you talk about the Easter Bunny, go looking for eggs, and eat chocolate. (Where did those things come from?) For some, it’s just a day to go out to eat. What are we missing? What’s the big deal about Easter?

In his book Simply Jesus by N.T. Wright, he says that when Jesus rose from the dead on Easter morning, he rose as the beginning of the new world that Israel’s God had always intended to make. Jesus brought heaven to earth. In biblical thought, heaven is not a long way from earth. In the Bible, heaven and earth overlap and interlock, as the Jewish people believed they did above all in the Temple. Heaven and earth are not like oil and water, resisting one another and separating themselves out. Heaven and earth were always meant to co-exist.

The view from the Jewish Bible is that heaven and earth are twin halves of God’s created reality, designed eventually to come together. Suppose that what has kept heaven and earth apart all this time is that the human creatures who were put in charge of the earthly part of this creation had rebelled, rejecting God’s rule over them, desiring to rule themselves. We wanted to “call our own shots.” This landed us in a hole we couldn’t dig ourselves out of. We became addicted to sin, and couldn’t break free. We knew if we couldn’t break this addiction, it would eventually kill us. But, we couldn’t figure out how to undo the damage we had inflicted upon ourselves. We were stuck forever, with no hope of parole, no time off for good behavior, no anticipation that the future would be any better. We were caught in an endless downward spiral that we could not stop. We were dying.

Suppose then, that the creator God had finally come in person to set us free from the addictive power of sin. Suppose that God sent His Son to stop our downward spiral, lift us out of our hole, and put us back on sturdy ground once again. Suppose that the power of sin and death was broken, hope was restored, and the original purpose of creation was fulfilled after all. That is what happened when Jesus rose from the dead on Easter Sunday. Easter was the birth of the new creation. The power of sin and death that had tyrannized the old creation had been defeated, disabled, and overthrown. Jesus launched the new kingdom of God in power and glory on earth as in heaven.

Jesus let loose a new power in our world – the power to remake what was broken, to heal what was diseased, and to restore what was lost. The kingdom that Jesus inaugurated strangely, mysteriously, and partially during his public career through his healings, feastings, and teachings was now unveiled in a totally new dimension. Jesus is the prototype of the new creation.

This new creation overflows with the power of love. When Jesus meets his followers on Easter morning, they are sorrowful, ashamed, and anxious. He calls them by name. He tells them not to be afraid. He explains what is going on. He deals with them individually. There is a love, a deep, moving, warmth that goes out from Jesus. This love is strong, powerful, life-changing, and life-directing. The new creation has begun.

The old creation lives by pride and retribution. I stand up for myself, and if someone gets in my way, I try to get even. We’ve been there, done that, and got the scars to prove it. Now there is a completely different way to live, a way of love and reconciliation and healing and hope. It’s a way many people have never tried before. It’s a way that has been as unthinkable as – well, as the resurrection. That’s the point. Instead of building walls to keep people out of the new creation, Jesus builds bridges and invites everyone to come in. Jesus has ushered in a new world, a new reality, a new creation.

This is why Easter is a big deal. The resurrection of Jesus doesn’t just mean “It’s all right. We’re going to heaven now.” No, it means the reverse. It means that heaven has come to earth and made earth into a new creation. It doesn’t just mean “So there is life after death”, even though there is. Easter means so much more than that. Easter means you can live a beautiful, wonderful kind of life now both before death and after death. Death has lost its power over you. It will still hurt when it happens. But, now instead of being a painful end, death becomes a temporary phase that we pass through as we move on to an even better kind of life with God. Easter speaks of a life that is neither ghostly or unreal, but solid and definite and practical. Though the Easter stories come at the end of the gospels, they are not really about the end of the story. They are really about the beginning of the story. The beginning of God’s new world. The beginning of the kingdom. The beginning of a relationship that we can now have with God. A relationship that Jesus initiates for us. A relationship that will grow. A relationship that will never end. We can now experience an unconditional, never-ending love that sets us free to be who we really are, completely unafraid, healthy, honest, strong, and pain-free.

That is why Easter is a big deal. Easter changes everything. Reality has now been altered for all time. Some people will experience this new reality and some will not. If you will step out in faith, believe in Jesus, agree to follow his directions for your life, give up what he tells you has been holding you back, and join with others who are journeying with him through life, you can begin to experience this new reality. Your life can change in ways that you can’t begin to imagine yet. The world becomes a better place than you have dreamed. Jesus gives you a future that you can look forward to, that no thing and nobody can ever take away from you. Don’t miss it. Easter changes everything. Easter is a big deal.

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