Easter is a message from God

Published 10:23 pm Friday, March 29, 2013

By Rev. Chris Surber

The story of Jesus isn’t a story. Don’t tune me out or flip the page. If you are willing to casually dismiss the heart of the message of the Christian Church, don’t you at least owe that dismissal the time it takes to read the following 500 or so words?

The story of Jesus isn’t a story, because there are no natural ways to explain away the claims that it presents. For two millennia the claim of the Christian church has been as it remains today. The man Jesus died on a cross on a Friday and rose from the dead on Sunday, because the man, Jesus, wasn’t just a man. The Christian claim regarding Easter is a claim that, if true, changes everything for every man, just as it already has changed everything in the world.

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All good evidence and even secular scholarship around the world doesn’t dispute the fact of Jesus. The only thing disputed is the nature of Jesus. And in an effort to recast Jesus as a mere mortal, many natural explanations for Easter have been promoted over the years.

More than a few critics of the 19th century proposed that Jesus didn’t actually die on the cross. They say He swooned from the pain and blood loss. Then the coolness of the tomb revived Him. He rolled the stone away and walked to the where the disciples were.

The thing about this explanation is that even if it’s right, it’s wrong! Seeing a man in Jesus’ condition, barely clinging to life, they would not have hailed Him as a risen Lord. They would have called a doctor.

Some have suggested that the disciples, mostly fisherman unskilled in warfare, stole the body from the tomb, which was guarded by Roman soldiers, by the way, in order to perpetrate their lie; gaining fame and power. If this is true, then it really backfired.

Church history tells us that they all suffered persecution and most died horrible deaths. This fails to explain Easter, because you simply don’t die for a dead man.

The disciples went from being a scared band to an emboldened witness to the power of God. Only something as dramatic as the resurrection of Jesus could have compelled them to die willingly, happily, for Christ.

The story of Jesus is a message. Jesus is good. Jesus is alive. And the message of Jesus isn’t just for overzealous, out-of-touch religious fuddy-duddies or old ladies at soup luncheons. The message of Easter is for everybody.

He died for sin and rose to glory. He calls men everywhere to let go of a dying world to receive new and eternal life in Him. There is no simpler message that carries with it more profound consequences.

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” (John 3:16-17 ESV)

On the inside of the Easter card that God sends to everybody everywhere is a picture of an empty tomb and a simple message: Life is available to all who will receive it.

Friend, I like the Easter Bunny as much as the next guy, but bunnies don’t rise from the grave. The Easter Bunny is a story. Easter is a message from God to me and to you.

Chris Surber is pastor of Cypress Chapel Christian Church in Suffolk. Visit his website at www.chrissurber.com.