The Power of Easter
I grew up in a Christian home where Easter was celebrated with as much excitement, tradition and emotion as Christmas. In our home, Easter was always first and foremost about the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. But in spite of that focus, I just did not get it. Even as I understood my need for a savior and God’s provision in Jesus Christ, I still did not truly ‘get’ Easter.
The reality may be that we never fully ‘get’ Easter while we are on this earth. It is probably, at some level, something we get glimpses of as we mature as Christians. But 20 years ago, in a very dark period of my life, God began to open my eyes to the reality of Easter, and my life began to change.
It began during Easter weekend 1997 — not through shiny new clothes or the pageantry of an Easter service or a basket of dyed eggs, but through a book, written by a man changed by Jesus. I had left my wife and had given up on the Jesus of my youth. But the author of this book testified of a Jesus I had never really seen. It showed me not a glowing white robed figure with his hands in the air, but a powerful man whose love for me was equally powerful. I saw that he did love me like I was, but he loved me too much to leave me there. This powerful and unsentimental love overcame me. I moved home with only this love to sustain me. It did more than sustain me. It changed me.
In the months following that Easter, as I dug into God’s word with a hunger I had not known, I began to realize that the inner struggles that brought me such shame were not disgusting to Jesus, but that He died for me because of my struggles. He willingly subjected Himself to a horrific death for me, because He knew that without His sacrifice, I would perish and would be without power to overcome my sin. Prior to that point, I’m not sure I had ever truly personalized Jesus’ death on the cross. Like Paul told the Romans, God’s love was indeed demonstrated to me as Christ died for me while I was yet a sinner. He paid my debt — and he knew the ugliness inside of me when he hung on that cross. That is amazing love, and that love brought me home. That love restored our marriage. That love changed my life.
In the last few years, God has been teaching me about the amazing power that is ours through the power of the cross. I think we often miss this aspect. I used to only see Easter and the resurrection from a salvation standpoint. But the power of the resurrection is not just for the one time benefit of salvation. The power of the resurrection is continuous power for life and for the future. I Peter 1:3 says that we are born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. Our hope is ALIVE because of the resurrection! When Paul talks about the goal of his life in Philippians 3:10, he says “…that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings.” Paul’s prayer is for an ongoing, experiential knowledge — something living and active and day-to-day. What great encouragement for life that gives!
The power that raised Jesus from the dead is the power for new life — it is the power that enables us to do good works — it is the power for understanding and wisdom — it is the power for change. It is the power that can transform any life — without regard for the magnitude of issues and struggles. It is the power that changed me.