Someone has commented that Jesus came to do three things for us: forgive us our past, give us a purpose for living, and invite us into an eternal home in heaven. Easter captures the significance of each of these things.
Easter is the affirmation that Jesus’ death on the cross provides us forgiveness. Had Jesus not risen from the grave, his death would have been notable. It would have been a perfect act of self-giving. It would have expressed the great love someone can have for another person or group of people. But it would not have been the sacrifice that atoned for our sins, because it would have only been a human act. The resurrection signals that the cross was more than a human act of self-giving; it was God’s atoning work of grace through his Son.
Easter gives us a new purpose. Our purpose is not just to make the most of this life while we can, since it is so quickly over. Instead Easter lets us know that our lives have an eternal significance. For that reason our lives matter, not only in the world to come but in this one. The early church understood that Easter changed everything. Their purpose was to spread the good news of the resurrection so that others might also experience this great hope. Easter gives us a new life and calls us to live into it.
The importance of the promise of a home in heaven cannot be overstated. While Christianity is more than just the promise of heaven, it is not less than that. Our Christian hope gives us the grace to endure suffering, stand up under trials, and live life with passion. It also allows us to live more sacrificially than we ordinarily would, because we know this world is not our final destiny.
Easter always gives us a second chance. Wherever we have made mistakes, whatever we have messed up, however full of trouble our life has been, Easter brings hope. It reminds us that we can always start over.
This Easter may we take seriously the opportunity we have. May we recommit ourselves to a new life and seek to live into our Easter hope. Christ is alive and it makes all the difference.