We have seen an outpouring of grief around the world this week at the blazing destruction of the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. Some have mourned the loss of a cultural icon, while others have grieved the loss of a place of worship. Yet within the ashes of this devastation are signs of hope: claimed relics of the historical crucifixion of Jesus have been saved, the bulk of the stone structure is intact, and finances are promised for the rebuilding.
Good Friday reminds us of the hope of resurrection, but that the pathway to new life is always through death:
24-25 “Listen carefully: Unless a grain of wheat is buried in the ground, dead to the world, it is never any more than a grain of wheat. But if it is buried, it sprouts and reproduces itself many times over. In the same way, anyone who holds on to life just as it is destroys that life. But if you let it go, reckless in your love, you’ll have it forever, real and eternal.26 “If any of you wants to serve me, then follow me. Then you’ll be where I am, ready to serve at a moment’s notice. The Father will honor and reward anyone who serves me.
John 12:24-26 The Message (MSG)
The call to follow Jesus is a call to die to all that is within us that frustrates the purposes of God for this world. It is a call to follow the path that Jesus trod in continuing to choose God over self. Dietrich Bonhoeffer put it eloquently when he said, "When Christ calls a person he bids them come and die."
Easter is about new beginnings - turning death into life.
There are many responses to the resurrection of Jesus recorded in Scripture. Disbelief, joy, bewilderment, fear, and denial are just some of the range of feelings that we meet in the Bible’s pages.
What we never find is a “ho-hum” response. We can sense the excitement in Paul as he pens these words, full of ‘ands’ and ‘thens,’ running from one thought to the next, in 1 Corinthians 15 (NLT):
4 He was buried, and he was raised from the dead on the third day, just as the Scriptures said. 5 He was seen by Peter and then by the Twelve. 6 After that, he was seen by more than 500 of his followers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have died. 7 Then he was seen by James and later by all the apostles.
For many of us, the facts of the resurrection are not in dispute. But the implications of Jesus’ resurrection for our lives are immense (1 Cor 15 NLT):
16 And if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, then your faith is useless and you are still guilty of your sins. 18 In that case, all who have died believing in Christ are lost! 19 And if our hope in Christ is only for this life, we are more to be pitied than anyone in the world. 20 But in fact, Christ has been raised from the dead. He is the first of a great harvest of all who have died. 21 So you see, just as death came into the world through a man, now the resurrection from the dead has begun through another man. 22 Just as everyone dies because we all belong to Adam, everyone who belongs to Christ will be given new life.
New life, our own resurrection, and the complete reign of God over everything, everywhere, are just some of the radical repercussions of Christ’s resurrection.
Of course, these are not only things to be celebrated as accomplished, for the resurrection of Jesus calls us to do all we can to usher in the new order of his Kingdom.
In our lives, it means that whatever darkness we are experiencing, we can experience restoration and renewal.
In our relationships, it means encountering the enormity of the grace of God to us in Christ, and extending forgiveness to those who have hurt us.
In our churches, it means that the hope of revitalization (download your free assessment tool here) or some other form of re-birth is real, though the costly pathway to confront the fact that business-as-usual is no longer working is a form of death.
In our world, it means embracing the sure hope that the whole cosmos will be renewed, and seeking to understand the implications of that for each of our lives as we pray and work toward that day.
Today is a day for recapturing the excitement of the first followers of Jesus; to stand at the empty tomb with wonder and awe at the love and power of God. And it is a day for renewing our commitment to Jesus, his people, and his purposes.
© 2019 Ian Duncum. All rights reserved. No reproduction without written permission.
econtacted through he author of The Impact of Church Consultancy (Wipf & Stock). Ian is a consultant with 20 years experience of working with non-profit enterprises and churches across a number of denominations. This has included denominational leadership (church health and development) and research positions. An accredited minister with a track record of growing and revitalizing churches, Ian also trains church consultants, facilitates training for ministers and leaders, and mentors/coaches pastors and other leaders. He can be