Today is Good Friday so I thought I’d share a piece by my friend and mentor Dr. Calvin Metcalf about why the resurrection of Jesus is important. For Christians, the events of this weekend are the nail upon which our entire belief swings. For us it has nothing at all to do with colored eggs, chocolate bunnies, peeps or baskets filled with candy. All of these came from an ancient Celtic rite of spring worshiping the goddess Esther; the goddess of spring and rebirth. For us it is the self-sacrifice of Jesus and his rebirth that matter. If you don’t choose to believe as I do, that’s your choice; peace be with you.
The spiritual and emotional energy for Christianity comes from the Resurrection. No other event is as pivotal to the expression of our faith. It is the focus of our theology. We may disagree on the particulars of our faith, but we cling to the Resurrection. Our day of worship coincides with Resurrection day. For most Christians the Sabbath gives way to Sunday simply because Jesus rose from the dead on the first day of the week. Some of our most optimistic and powerful hymns feature the Resurrection. Gospel sermons resonate with a strong emphasis on the risen Christ. It is an inescapable fact that Christians are an Easter people. We are nurtured in the Resurrection conversation.
Because of the Resurrection we are not worshiping a dead hero, but a risen Savior. Our Lord’s teaching and example were good in and of themselves, but the Resurrection gave impetus to all He said and did. It validated who He was and gave credence to His proclamation. His whole life pointed to this ultimate miracle. Without it His followers could have been disillusioned by seeming defeat. Without it Christianity might not have survived the first century and the memories of those closest to Jesus.
There is a tremendous note of victory produced by the Resurrection.
From the despair of Good Friday the disciples rejoiced in the presence of the risen Christ. Because Jesus survived death, hell and the grave they began to feel it was also possible for them. Because of the Resurrection there is the feeling of eternity about our life in Christ. The future loses some of its mystery because death cannot keep it prey. We began to sense that life is headed somewhere. We are not on a dead-end street identified by a grave marker. We too anticipate a resurrection.
The Resurrection is a strong reminder that evil will not have the last word. Although it seems to prevail in this life, we are moving toward its defeat. People who hate and murder, lie and steal, or cause confusion and discord are not an Easter people because Easter people rejoice in good and not evil. No one deserves it, but everyone is invited to God’s great Easter party. Come, let us celebrate. He has risen. Indeed He has risen.