As we approach another Resurrection Sunday, some of us may feel a little tired of hearing the same accounts of Christ’s death, burial and resurrection. We may be genuine Christians who honestly love the Lord. We may cherish what Jesus did on the cross and we may embrace the hope of His resurrection. But, truth be told, at this time of year sometimes talking about those great events can feel forced and contrived. Precisely because talking about them is expected at Easter, we shy away from the subject.
I know I experience an awkwardness as I anticipate blogging during Holy Week. And I’m sure most pastors experience the same awkwardness. Maybe it’s wrong to feel as if we must present the Gospel in a new and fresh way each year, but perhaps it’s right to humble ourselves and admit it! We still love the Gospel — we just don’t appreciate the sense of obligation to write about it on this particular week.
And that’s a shame!
Although Christians understand that Christ’s resurrection is absolutely central to our faith, many of us struggle to see exactly what it means to us personally. The atonement for sin through the shed blood of Jesus Christ makes a little more sense to us — we grasp the idea that He died the death that rightly belonged to us. But sometimes (if we’re honest), we have difficulty articulating the significance that His resurrection has for us. Consequently, we tend to prefer hearing about other aspects of the Christian faith. We want to know how God can meet our needs here and now instead of stories about an empty tomb or a future heavenly life in His kingdom.
Our feelings, though understandable, embarrass us. They expose our selfishness. Pastors and Christian bloggers share that embarrassment, and our struggle with awkwardness actually comes from that embarrassment. Apparently we ignore the significance of Christ’s death, burial and resurrection in favor of more immediate concerns. Or, to put it more accurately, our immediate concerns crowd out our interest in the cross and the empty tomb.
Yet the Bible makes it clear that Christ’s death, burial and resurrection is the absolute bedrock of the Gospel. Consider this familiar, yet definitive passage from Paul’s epistle to the Corinthians:
Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, 2 by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain.
3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 6 After that He appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom remain until now, but some have fallen asleep; 7 then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles; 8 and last of all, as to one untimely born, He appeared to me also. 9 For I am the least of the apostles, and not fit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me did not prove vain; but I labored even more than all of them, yet not I, but the grace of God with me. 11 Whether then it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed. ~~1 Corinthians 15:3-11 (NASB95)
The Holy Spirit inspired Paul to declare that the death, burial and resurrection of Christ was of first importance. And the passage specifically puts the emphasis on His resurrection. If you’ll continue reading 1 Corinthians 15 (and I strongly urge you to read it!), you’ll learn that Christ’s resurrection is our only reason to have hope. Paul explicitly states that if Christ hasn’t been raised from the dead, following Him is just a waste of time (1 Corinthians 15:19).
Far from being a tiresome old message that pastors and bloggers obediently trot out each year at this time, the Good News that Christ shed His blood and died to pay for our sin, and that He rose again so that we can rise with Him when He returns is something to fill us with hope. It can thrill us, energizing even the weariest believer. The cross assures us that God has judged our sins in His Son, and the resurrection proves that He accepted Christ’s sacrifice (Romans 1:4). Although proclaiming this glorious Gospel at this particular time of year may feel a little more contrived than usual, really thinking about it will inevitability fill a Christian’s heart with joy.
I know. Writing this blog post certainly made me rejoice!