This weekend (April 3-5, 2015) the focus of most Christian denominations will be the Good Friday and Easter events. Christians all over the world are commemorating and reenacting these events of great significance to them and they believe the world. What really happened on that first Good Friday and Easter Day? What significance (bearings) and relevance do they have for the world today? This article will seek to explore a little bit below.
The Holy Scripture and Christian history bear abundant testimony that that fateful first Good Friday and that first Easter Sunday Jesus was killed in one of the most gruesome manners the world has even known but rose again from death. The events leading up to his death are vividly described as causing agony and distress to his physical body and his soul. He was arrested and maltreated by the Roman soldiers and the Jewish religious authorities, betrayed by one of his own disciples, Judas Iscariot, deserted by most of his male disciples, denied by Peter, the de facto head of the disciples, went through several trials of travesty, and murdered like a common criminal. His enemies thought they had finished him up but they were wrong!
On the third day after crucifying him he rose from death to the surprise of his enemies and even his own disciples. He appeared in different ways to different numbers of his disciples and in various places to prove to his followers that he is indeed alive and has conquered death!
These momentous events mean that he came on earth, lived as the greatest servant of God and man and died in mankind’s place for pay for its sin that it could not otherwise pay for by itself and in itself. Christian experience and the Scripture teach that by his death and resurrection Jesus Christ has made the perfect, once for all, sufficient sacrifice for the sins of the world and conquered death for all. By his rising to life from death Jesus now has a new existence, a new spiritual body that is not subject to physical hurting and decay and can pass through things and places that could not be possible in a normal human body and existence.
This new form of existence is promised to all who believe and obey him when they too rise from death. The resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth achieves many great things for humans. What he achieves include salvation, forgiveness of sin, unhindered access to the throne and grace of God twenty-four-seven, power to cope and do what one ought to, and a source of a living hope.
It is this last point we want to expand on a little below. The resurrection of Jesus Christ is a source of living hope for those who by faith and obedience own the resurrection. Peter puts it like this: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. By his great mercy he has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1 Peter 1:3).
This does not mean in any way that those who believe in the resurrection will not experience problems and challenges in life. They may still experience bereavement, terrible illnesses, disappointments and temporary failures, and their enemies may at time seem to have won over them for a while but the faithful believers know that they will ultimately win. Because their Master won over the worst of challenges including physical death they too will win no matter the battle and the enemy.
This living hope gives them strength to keep hanging in there till the victory comes at God’s own choosing. No matter how great the fall they experience they rise again and again. They are certain that he that is in them is by far greater than he that is in the world (1 John 4:4). No amount of difficulties or good things can take away this hope from them. Their hope is indestructible. It does not depend on material things or circumstances or other people’s attitude. It is rested on what God in Christ has done and has promised.
Therefore belief in the resurrection should be able to revive any unfortunate situation or condition the believer faces. This does not make grieving or coping with any distress easy but bearable and conquerable. The resurrection makes the believer to bear the unbearable and to achieve what was thought impossible from the human point of view. It is my prayer that during these commemorations of Good Friday and Easter each believer will endeavor to own the hope and power of the resurrection and let it enable him/her to cope with any eventuality and to live for their Master and others.