What if…Every Day Is Easter?

Posted: March 29th, 2018 | Author: James Early | Filed under: Easter | 1 Comment »
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“The Super at Emmaus” by Valázquez (1623) oil on canvas

Easter is sort of like Christmas. Once a year we celebrate the birth of Jesus. Once a year we celebrate his resurrection. Many Christians I know seem to focus more on his crucifixion the rest of the year. I have written about this in a previous post. We need to remember the resurrection all year long.

In fact, I think it’s time to wean ourselves from this notion that the resurrection is a one-time event that occurred almost 2,000 years ago. The resurrection of Jesus is a constant, always present, always expanding spiritual power. Yes, absolutely, Jesus was crucified, died, was buried, and rose from the grave. These were part of a series of events in a small corner of the ancient world. But their power and significance live on.

The resurrection of Jesus opened the door on eternal life and shut the door on sin, death, and all evil. This door to life is still open and no one can shut it.

Think back to that devastating morning not long after the crucifixion when Jesus’ remaining disciples were huddled in fear, reeling from the death of their Master. It’s hard for us to begin to imagine their dashed hopes, their utter despair, and their doubts and uncertainties about what to do next. We know what was about to happen. They did not.

All of a sudden, Mary Magdalene came with the absurd news that she had seen Jesus and even talked with him. It was too much for them. They thought she was crazy. How would you have responded to her report? But sure enough, Jesus showed up and talked to the disciples. He rebuked them for not believing, but he also reassured and comforted them.

The emotions in that room must have changed pretty quickly once they realized it was actually Jesus instead of his spirit or an apparition. The human mind was forced to set aside its preconceived notions about life and death and look at things from a more spiritual perspective.

With the resurrection, Jesus made the idea of eternal life more tangible to his followers. He proved that death did not have the ultimate victory over life. This is still true for us today.

Even before his crucifixion and resurrection Jesus had declared, “I am the resurrection and the life. ” (John 11:25 KJV) He doesn’t say, “I will be” or “was” the resurrection. He is the resurrection. Christ is continuously, constantly, and consistently the resurrection. Every day. He never stops being the resurrection. That means the resurrection is taking place right now.

Christ’s resurrection is also our resurrection

The fact that Jesus walked out of the tomb means we can walk out of the tombs we feel buried in: a dead end job, a relationship that has crashed and burned, or a toxic (literal or figurative) environment. Christ is constantly defeating death and rolling the stone away from the tomb our hope is buried in. This is true in the bigger picture of eternity, but it’s also true in the niggly little details of our everyday lives.

How is this possible? Paul promises us “But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.” (Romans 8:11 KJV) The same God who raised Jesus from the dead raises us from the big and little deaths we face.

Easter every day

When the disciples finally realized that Jesus was standing in their midst, when just moments before they were entombed in grief, their joy knew no boundaries. What if… we could feel that way every day? What if we could experience the risen Christ every day? Would you act differently? I know I would.

This is my vision for the year, to see the risen Christ every day. What if we could actually do that for more than just the five minutes after we make the resolution? Our hearts are in the right place, we feel safe in the bosom of God’s love, but then the world screams at us for attention, and we race off trying to deal with the demands of work, family, church, and an endless parade of the petty and real emergencies of daily life.

But what if…

But what if we could really start to live each day as if we had just seen Jesus after his resurrection? What would you do differently? I think I would want to be more humble and try to be less opinionated. I would want to tell everyone I saw. I would share my faith more readily. It would give new meaning and purpose to every detail of my life and help me quit focusing on things that weren’t so important.

Will you join me in this endeavor to see the risen Christ every day, to live your life as if you had just seen Jesus on that first Easter morning? I think this is the spirit which helped the early Christian church grow so rapidly at first. It wasn’t about doctrine or ritual or ceremonies or creed. It was about the risen Christ and the resulting freedom from the clutches the material world had on mankind.

There will never be complete unity in the body of Christ over man-made doctrines. Unity will prevail when we all bear witness to the resurrection of Jesus moment by moment, day by day, and year by year, generation after generation.

Easter is every day. The resurrection is taking place every day and will never cease. And it’s happening in your heart right now.

I wish you a most happy Easter, all year long.

As always, I’d love to hear from you. Please share your thoughts below.

Blessings,
James


Easter: Cross AND Resurrection

Posted: March 21st, 2016 | Author: James Early | Filed under: Easter | 5 Comments »
cross and resurrection

“I am the resurrection and the life.”

Easter is just a few days away. Yesterday I watched a wonderful music video by the Ball Brothers singing about the cross of Jesus and how important it is. The song is called, “It’s About the Cross.”

I must say, it is very moving, beautifully sung and produced. Check it out below:

But as beautiful as the song and singing are and as important as the message is, there is something almost lacking from this song. Actually, it’s there if you listen closely, but unfortunately the rolled-away stone is not given the front-row-and-center attention it deserves.

It’s not all about the cross of Jesus

There is, in fact, something of much greater significance than the crucifixion. Yes, Jesus was nailed to the cross. His blood was shed. He took all the world’s sin on his shoulders for the salvation of us all. He died so we might live. But that is not all he did.

He rose from the grave. THAT is what Easter is about. The resurrection.

Paul wrote the Christians in Corinth, “But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen: And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain.”  (I Corinthians 15:13, 14  KJV)

If Christ is not risen, your faith is vain.

You can preach all day long and all year long about how Jesus died on the cross for our sins, but that is not the whole message. In fact, if you just preach about the cross, or consider it as the focal point of your own salvation, you are distorting and diminishing the full Gospel of Jesus Christ.

If Jesus had just died on the cross and not resurrected, Christianity would have faded into oblivion. Paul bluntly says that without the resurrection our faith would be vain, pointless, empty, worthless. It was, and is, the fact that Jesus overcame death and sin that validated the sacrifice he made on the cross.

It was not Jesus’ death on the cross alone that saves us. It is his victory over death that seals our salvation. Without the resurrection, the blood of Jesus would have been spilled in vain.

The blood of Jesus Christ

And it is not Jesus’ literal, material blood that saves you, anymore than it was literally his blood he gave to his disciples at the Last Supper. He did not cut himself and pour his blood into the cup he offered them to drink. The Bible clearly states it was wine. The blood he referred to was a metaphor for his life, the love he gave and the sacrifices he made and the inspiration he lived on a daily basis.

If you are a Bible literalist, you may disagree. That’s your prerogative. If you believe in the doctrine of trans-substantiation, you may disagree. That is also your prerogative. And I will politely disagree with you.

Jesus did not want us to drink his actual, literal blood. His true blood, which he offers us to drink, is the outflow of a love greater than any of us can humanly comprehend. He took on our sins and willingly went through the agony of crucifixion. Drink in his life purpose. Drink in his love. Drink in his life example. Make them your own. Drink this blood, this life-giving current of love.

The crucifixion of Jesus

To the five material senses, Jesus was nailed to a post and cross beam and died a common criminal’s death. But the five senses never bear witness to the full truth. Jesus even warned us not to judge according to the appearance of things (see John 7:24).

To the five material senses, the sight of Jesus nailed to a cross was pretty convincing. But that material picture or “appearance” could not come close to portraying what was really going on. It looked like Jesus was being crucified. But the exact opposite was actually taking place. He was crucifying sin. It looked like he was dying. But in fact, he was destroying death.

It is all about Jesus

Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life” (John 11:25). He did not say, “I am the cross.”

The real “it” in this music video should be Jesus, all of Jesus, not part of him. It’s not all about the cross. It’s about the cross to a large degree, but the resurrection is equally important if not more so, to Jesus’ story and God’s plan of salvation. It’s about Jesus’ full story: his birth, his ministry, his healing works, his teachings, his life example, his crucifixion, his resurrection and ascension.

But above it all, Jesus’ victory over sin, death, and the grave, must be the keystone of our faith.

For 51 weeks out of the year, most Christians talk about almost nothing but the cross of Jesus as the road to salvation. Then, at Easter time, it seems they suddenly rediscover the resurrection and glory in it for about a week or so. Then it’s back to the cross.

Please don’t get me wrong. You can’t leave the crucifixion out of your faith or when you share the Gospel. But you can’t leave out the resurrection either or relegate it to the back burner of lesser importance. The fact that Jesus “is risen” should permeate every breath we take, every step we walk, every word we speak, every thought we think, every fiber of our being.

Are you dwelling in the past or the present?

Jesus was on the cross. He is risen. This Easter and during the coming year, remember where Jesus was, but focus on where he is now.

Easter blessings to you,

James