Easter: truth that transforms

I read an article this week entitled, “The most important week in history”. It was about those events in Jerusalem during that week in April 33AD. Most of us are familiar with those events. Actually, we can be so familiar with Easter that we can become a little numb to the significance of what happened. The events of “the most important week in history” stop being of most personal importance to us.

Sir Norman Anderson was a remarkable man. He held three 1st class degrees from Cambridge and was said to have the greatest legal mind in the UK in the 1950s. He also experienced more than his share of suffering, being bereaved of all three of his children. For him, the truths of the Easter story had deep personal significance.

He said, “Easter is not primarily a comfort, but a challenge. Its message is either the supreme fact in history or else a gigantic hoax. This seems to have been realized in the days of the early church. On the one side, there was a little company of men and women who turned the world upside down by their passionate proclamation of that miracle which had transformed their lives. On the other, those who vehemently denounced the whole story as arrant blasphemy. We ourselves find it hard to see the issue so clear-cut, for ours is a tolerant age and one suspicious of all fanaticism. Most people have not the slightest desire to attack the Easter message; and yet they only half believe it. To them it is a beautiful story, full of spiritual meaning: why worry, then, whether it is literal fact?”

“But we miss the point. Either it is infinitely more than a beautiful story, or else it is infinitely less. If it is true, then it is the supreme fact of history; and to fail to adjust one’s life to its implications means irreparable loss. But if it is not true, if Christ be not risen, then the whole of Christianity is a fraud, foisted on the world by a company of consummate liars, or, at best, deluded simpletons. St. Paul himself realized this when he wrote, ‘If Christ be not risen, then is our preaching meaningless, and your faith worthless. More, we ourselves are found to be false witnesses’.”

Jesus is with us, here, now and forever.

Norman Anderson was right. You cannot call the events of Easter of moderate interest. Either the death and resurrection of Jesus are of total interest or they’re of no interest at all.

What difference does Easter make to you? Does it bring comfort in trials, hope amidst suffering, real purpose in the brevity of your life, and security in an otherwise insecure world? As one Ukrainian pastor said – if Jesus suffered for us, will he leave us now? No, Jesus is risen! Jesus is with us, here, now and forever.

Easter focusses our gaze. In light of the death and resurrection of Jesus, the Apostle Paul says, “Stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourself fully to the work of the Lord because you know that your labour in the Lord is not in vain” (1 Cor. 15:58).

Vicar

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