At Easter, followers of Christ are thrust into a deep mystery, a mystery before which we stand in awe. We contemplate this mystery that nourishes our faith and fills our hearts with wonder, love and praise. We confess it is beyond our capacity to explain it fully in rational categories. Yet bearing witness to it with confidence and joy, we celebrate it as sacred memory and embrace it as glorious hope.
The one who died at Calvary is the second Person of the Trinity. It is God whose self-offering we recall when we speak about the Cross. It is the eternal One whose head is bowed in suffering love on Calvary’s hill. The One who dies at Calvary is God!
The God whom we serve is the eternal One, who was before time, lives in time and will be when time is no more. This is the God whom the gates of death cannot confine. The One who was crucified and then laid in a borrowed tomb was not only the creator and giver of life, but is life itself.
Fresh air of new life
The One who self-identifies as “the way, the truth and the life” breathes the fresh air of new life into our old life, leading us to experience new birth. The Lord who is “the life” speaks life into our deaths and brings the breath of newness where old ways and old imprisonments could continue to cramp or immobilize travelers on life’s journey.
The God of Easter is the Father who, in Jesus the Christ, abandoned the place prepared for the dead, broke open the way through death to life and, once and for all, put to death the monster of death itself. That’s why we shout in victory: “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” And we declare: “Thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus” (1 Corinthians 15:55, 57).
When we declare: “Christ is risen! He is risen indeed!” we tell the story of the mystery of the triune God who makes a way for us through the arid deserts of our days. God draws people to their maker and Savior and invests in them the gift of abundant life, which is so powerful that death cannot eradicate it. This is the life of the future that manifests itself in the cut and thrust of our everyday existence.
When we celebrate Easter …
The triune God of wonders climbs the hill of Calvary, surrenders life so that we may receive life and then takes up life again to build a fortress of hope in which human beings can find the confidence the world cannot give.
When we celebrate Easter, we express the confident assurance that the risen Christ indwells us even as we live in Christ. Ours is no ordinary life circumscribed between the mysteries of birth and death. Nor is it perilous existence deprived of perpetual joy. At Easter, we celebrate the gift of eternal life made possible through the death and resurrection of God’s Son! Hallelujah!
Neville Callam is general secretary of the Baptist World Alliance