Apr 16, 2017
“And they feared exceedingly, and said one to another, What manner of man is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”
Easter is complicated enough in its significance without us poor humans festooning it with spiritual irrelevancies and celebratory ornaments like bunnies and painted eggs. The early church, which practiced forms of marketing, perhaps named it Easter after pagan fertility rites (Springtime; the rising sun in the east; the fecundity represented by rabbits and eggs); perhaps after the Egyptian fertility goddess Isis or Mesopotamian fertility goddess Ishtar; perhaps the Anglo-Saxon tribes’ goddess of the dawn, Eostre. Names, not substance, of course.
Easter is at once the densest theological concept, its history and meaning easy to reject by the skeptic; and the easiest message to accept by the lost, the hurting, the confused, the hungry, the searching souls of humanity.
That is to say, the truth of the gospel is audacious in its simplicity. Too good to be true, we are tempted to think. It is welcomed, and has been for 2000 years, by all but the hard-hearted and stiff-necked.
It takes more hatred and more hostility to dismiss the gospel, than it requires an open mind and an open heart to believe.
It requires more skepticism to reject the incarnation, Jesus’ ministry and atonement as concentrated in the events of Holy Week, than the faith required to believe it – the countless prophecies precisely fulfilled; the accounts of many eyewitnesses; the life-changing testimonies… Well, I am not writing to convince skeptics today, but rather to be persuasive with those who identify as Christians.
The world asks, “What if the Easter story is not true?”
To contemporary Christians, I ask:
What if the Easter story IS true?
Can people see a change in your life?
Do you go into the whole world – even just your neighborhood – proclaiming the Gospel?
Are you a “fisher of men,” as Christ commended we become?
Can the world clearly see you as “born again,” living a new life?
Because there are laws, we render unto Caesar those things that are Caesar’s… but do you render unto God the things that are God’s?
Do you display the Fruits of the Spirit? More, do you seek the Gifts of the Spirit? Do you pick and choose among Christ’s commands and God’s blessings?
Do you love?
Do you forgive?
God became flesh and dwelt among us. He taught wisely, but did not come to earth primarily to teach. He performed miracles, but perhaps largely to confirm His divinity. The details of His life, as we have said, fulfilled prophecy to levels of mathematical improbability… confirming to a doubting world that He was indeed the Messiah.
Jesus did mighty works modestly and He did loving acts mightily. He performed miracles, raised the dead, healed the sick, read minds, walked on water, produced food for the hungry, calmed the wind and troubled waters. What manner of man was this?
As Emmanuel – God-with-us – He emptied Himself of His divinity when He chose. He wept for the lost. He allowed Himself to be ridiculed, rejected, betrayed, persecuted, accused, tortured, jailed, humiliated, killed.
Sacrificial lambs never did have an easy time of it.
We should see the events of Holy Week not as rituals Christ had to endure, as pages of a script. They were the mightiest of His miracles! To do all that for us – when He could have waved away enemies and soldiers, even Satan – were mighty miracles. Even mightier, to a lowly observer like me, was forgiving those who did these things during His last earthly days. Forgiving me, like Paul, chief among sinners; dying for us all while we were yet sinners.
Indeed, What manner of man is this?
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