Of all the events in the life of Jesus, the one that I’ve had the hardest time really “getting” is his resurrection.
When I was going through the confirmation process as a teenager (#lutherandays), I was interviewed by our senior pastor. At the end, he asked me if I had any questions. Mine was why the resurrection was so important. I understood the cross--our sins had to be paid for--but why was it so crucial that he rise again? What did the resurrection really mean?
Although I’ve since come to a better theological understanding of the resurrection (like that it showed that the payment for our sins had been accepted, among other things), I was reminded again this past Easter weekend how little I really think about it in my daily life. I don’t think that’s uncommon among Christians. If you look at the songs we sing and most of the sermons we hear, they’re usually much more focused on the cross. Which, of course, is a crucial, crucial part of the faith. But I wonder how much joy we miss out on by not reflecting as much on the resurrection.
Personally, I realized this weekend that I tend to stay at the cross, by which I mean I tend to focus on my sin and the cost of it and my general unworthiness. Reflecting on our sin is not a bad thing in and of itself, but it should just be the starting point. The cross was a means to an end, not the end itself. God dealt with our sins on the cross so that we could have new life in him. The cross happened so that the resurrection could happen.
But if you look at the way I think and live my life, it’s like I believe that Jesus died on the cross just because he hated sin, period. But if that was the only point, and not because he wanted to be able to give us the gift of a relationship with him, he could have just said “Forget all of you!” and justly condemned us all to hell. Sin dealt with. The end.
Thanks be to God, that’s not what happened. And so I do myself a disservice if I think the point of the Christian life is to just focus on how much I fail. Reflecting on the resurrection reminds me that that particular tendency is much more a result of my struggle with depression than it is a proper overflow of the life we have in Christ.
So let’s remember that the resurrection is the end. Jesus died, but he died and rose again so that we can have new, abundant life in him. It’s a life in which we are to reflect on our sin, but for the purpose of having a fuller, better relationship with God, not because beating yourself up endlessly is what it’s all about. “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free” (Gal. 5:1).