Monday, April 13, 2009

The Meaning of Easter

There is usually much discussion in December about "the true meaning of Christmas", and there is not usually much discussion about the "true meaning of Easter". I think that is because Easter is very misunderstood. Christians are good when it comes to talking about the cross, but Easter turns into a muddle usually. Often the only real import given to Easter is that it demonstrates that God accepted Christ's sacrifice on the cross. In other words, the resurrection is a sort of "told you so" about the cross. I think there is MUCH MORE to it than that. This quote from NT Wright that I found on Mike DeVries' blog makes a good point about the resurrection.

As we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus and its meaning for this world...

For them [first century Jews], the idea of "resurrection" had, up to that point been quite simple. It was, they would have said, what would happen to everyone at the end - when everyone got through the tunnel to the other side, if you like, or when the day finally dawned and the Old Time was abolished for ever. Only gradually, and particularly when they met Jesus, with his body fully alive, indeed, more alive than it had ever been, because it had been through death and out the other side - only gradually did the realize what had happened. In his death, Jesus had taken all the sin and death and shame and sorrow of the world upon himself, so that by letting it do its worst to him he had destroyed its power, which means that now there is nothing to stop the new creation coming into being. Jesus' resurrection body is the first bit of the new creation, the sign of the new world that is to come. In terms of Good Friday as the sixth day, and Holy Saturday as the seventh day, the day when God rested after creation, the day when Jesus rested after redemption, Easter Day is the eighth day, the first day of the new week. This isn't the end; it's the beginning.

[Tom Wright, Christians at the Cross: Finding Hope in the Passion, Death, and Resurrection of Jesus, pp. 76-77]

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