Once again we’re approaching the biggest festival of the Christian year: Easter. Yes, I know that in terms of time and money and trappings and special events Christmas is the bigger celebration, but from a gospel perspective that’s not the case. Christmas is great, but it’s just the preamble, the necessary prerequisite for the miracle of Easter. At the centre of our faith is not a manger, but a cross and a tomb.
It’s not surprising that people prefer Christmas; the story is less gory and contains more sheep. But nevertheless, the main point of our preaching is and will always be the death and resurrection of Jesus the Son of God.
Why is that? Because that’s where God dealt decisively with humanity’s main problem: our sinful nature which kills us, separates us from God and makes us objects of wrath. So Jesus suffered for our sins, the righteous taking the penalty of the unrighteous to bring us back to God (1 Pet 3:18), and voluntarily tasted our mortality: the only person ever who didn’t deserve death brutally executed on a Roman cross.
But then he rose again! Death couldn’t hold him! That’s the great victory shout that has resounded for nearly 2000 years: Christ died! Christ is risen! Christ will come again!
And when he comes again, all who belong to him – all who have put their trust in the incarnate Word of God and received the right to be children of God – will share in his victory. In Christ we who were once dead in sin can also live forever, because Easter spells disaster for the reign of sin and death. Hallelujah!