This story is based on a true story: Once upon a time there was a girl who grew up in a dysfunctional home. She had been raised by a single parent. As she grew older she saw her mother become addicted to drugs, and as a result she suffered from neglect and was parentified at an early age. She lived in a situation that made her the built-in babysitter because her mother often would leave the younger siblings with her. She missed a lot of school. She had to make big decisions no child should have to worry about. How would she eat? Would she go to school today or stay with the siblings? Where was Mom? She grew up in a situation that made her act out in inappropriate ways. She sought ways to cope with her frustrations and pain. Did I mention she was a Christian? Yep, since she was 11 years old. However, she did not see how Jesus could speak into her current situation Monday through Saturday. Sundays were cool, though; she was able to go to church. But the preacher did not do a good job of helping her see how Jesus mattered for everyday life.
This brings me to a point. Easter is a season where we learn of the resurrection of our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ. We teach and share the good news every year that he is risen. We remember that all our sins are paid for, that Christ took the punishment we so deserved, and that we get the gift of eternal life and a new status: heir and forgiven child of God. That is good news. I happen to believe that although Advent is important and the inauguration of the kingdom of God on earth is vital, the resurrection is far more important because our sin debt was paid in full at the moment Jesus said, “It is finished.” The fact that he rose is the part that encourages me. Many important people live and die, but because he is alive again and dies no more, it gives me hope. Our old life also dies, and a new life arises in its place.
Playing on the English meaning of the word “testament,” I was recently thinking about insurance policies, because I’m at that age. I am married and have children. Sooner or later I’m going to go home to be with the Lord. When that happens, I want to make sure my affairs are in order and my estate is dispersed to my family in the way I wish it to be. As a family we go to see a lawyer who helps us plan our estate. I designate my wife as benefactor. I have assets I want our children to receive. I name who gets what. It’s my last will and testament. Isn’t it interesting that the good news of Jesus is found in the New Testament? The good news of Christ’s resurrection is found in God’s “last will and testament” to us, where all of his promises to us are “Yes and amen!” And then Jesus died! When Jesus died, all the heavenly inheritance was unlocked and passed to us by faith. We have inherited it because the proof of death was shown to the Father. Then Jesus changed the game when he rose from the dead. That. Changed. Everything.
If the resurrection didn’t happen, then none of this matters, and I suppose you can live however you want, do whatever you want, and sin to your heart’s content. But because the resurrection did happen, it changed everything. Now how we live matters. Now we have hope that God will sort out everything. Now we can tell people there’s more to life than the repetitive rat race, the corporate ladder, and the life that is shallowly glazed over with pleasures and frivolous living. There is more to life thanks to the resurrection of Christ. The resurrection means God has the last say, and that word is good for those who hope in Jesus, live in Jesus, and die in Jesus. The resurrection truly does matter.
It mattered for the girl. What happened to her? She got involved in a Christian group in college, and they walked with her. They helped her sort out her pain and disappointments. They were the church to her. She also met her now-spouse in the group. Thanks to the newfound hope that the resurrection gave her, she was able to talk to her now-sober mom about the past and reconcile. Things are improving in their relationship. She also has a therapist that helps her rewrite some of the unhelpful scripts and internalization that happened in her early life. She began the long and slow process to put away the things in her old life and embrace the new life in Christ. She is going to be OK.
All of the strength to do all of this comes from the fact that she serves a risen Savior who has helped her along the way, encouraged her when she made mistakes, wiped her tears, and hugged her scarred soul. We serve a wounded Savior who hugs us with his wounded hands as if to say, “I too have wounds, and I understand.” The girl is now a woman with a family of her own. She has broken the generational curses of addictions and poverty. She gives all glory and credit to God for breaking unhealthy cycles and patterns in her life. That is why the resurrection matters: because the power God used to raise Jesus from the dead is present and available to every believer.
Our God is also one that works with those in between death and life. Some of us don’t have such a triumphant story and are still waiting for God to do miraculous things. Some of us are waiting for God to do small things. History has shown us that prayer doesn’t always get answered immediately. Sometimes it doesn’t get answered at all, or if it does, it is in ways far different from what we expect. Our God works there too. We have a faith that says we trust the Lord when we get the answer, and we trust when we don’t. We trust not in manifested blessings, but a God who is able. He is who he is whether we get the answer to prayer or not. We have a relationship with the Creator of the universe, who came down into the middle of difficult circumstances and therefore understands firsthand the already-but-not-yet nature of our world. He meets us where the longing still is, where the kingdom has come but not yet fully. The resurrection of God’s Son is a promise that things will get better, and he sits with us in the difficult times, the pain, the waiting, the disappointments, and the setbacks. He sits with us either way—on the high mountain or in the low valley. We serve a God who loves us that much.
Our God is one that specializes in bringing dead things back to life. Sin has put to death many things, including relationships with God and with one another. But thanks be to God that we serve a risen Savior who can give us new life! Our life with him changes, and our life with one another changes as well. And if he can help that little girl, he can help you as well. Our God is a helper.
To God be the glory.
In your own words, without resorting to spiritual jargon, how would you explain what Easter means to you to someone who has never read the Bible or heard of Easter?
What story do you know and can share that reflects how Easter matters?
Have you ever waited for God’s resurrection power when it seems like your prayers aren’t answered? What did you learn from that experience?
If our God “specializes in bringing dead things back to life,” how can we join God in his mission? In what small ways can we assist God in bringing life to this world?