The Uncomfortable Truth of Easter

The Uncomfortable Truth of Easter!

Jobs 19:25-26; Matthew 28:1-10

 

The Easter stories are full of people getting the wrong end of the stick. For example, Mary thinks Jesus’ body has been stolen. Peter sees the linen wrappings and can’t work out what it’s all about. The disciples didn’t understand the Scriptures. The angels question Mary and she still doesn’t know what’s going on. Then she thinks Jesus is the gardener. Then, it seems, she reaches out to cling on to Him, and He tells her she mustn’t. The list can go on and on and on of people who misunderstood the reality of Christ’s Resurrection.

And the point is, of course: Easter has burst into our world, the world of space, time and matter, the world of real history and real people and real life, but our minds and imaginations are too small to contain it, so we do our best to put the sea into a bottle and fit the explosive fact of the resurrection into the possibilities we already know about.

I think the first Christians weren’t prepared for what actually happened. Nobody could have been. As one leading scholar has put it, “It looks as though they were struggling to describe something for which they didn’t have adequate language.” But this problem isn’t confined to the first century. Ever since then, people have tried to squash the Easter message into conventional boxes that it just won’t fit.

I wonder if we’ve got the Easter message right. The resurrection of Christ is so powerful and fascinating, yet it is the most uncomfortable and inconvenient truth. For me, the uncomfortable and inconvenient truth revealed itself in at least two ways on the First Easter morning:

First: The Strangeness of the Message

Imagine yourself one of those early disciples. You are coming with a really awkward message. Your message goes like this: Jesus of Nazareth, the well-known Jewish Galilean Rabbi, who had been crucified in Jerusalem three days earlier conquered death. He is risen. What the heck is that? Put yourself in the disciples’ shoes or the first audience of the Easter story. The Easter message did not make too much sense. In fact, it is still does not make too much sense to so many people today. It was the most inconvenient and uncomfortable truth. No one has ever heard of someone who died and rose again after three days. It is the unusual truth.

Friends, the Bible, God’s amazing Word, is not shy of voicing uncomfortable truths and many Bible passages are full of them. The Old Testament prophets preached uncomfortable truth. The New Testament, the teachings of Jesus, and Paul’s letter’s also contain a deep and uncomfortable truth: there is no way of following Christ and enjoying the benefits of salvation without first dying to self and those habitual patterns of behavior which are as destructive as they are comfortable and familiar. For Paul, Jesus is not an optional extra but a presence in our lives, which completely transforms and re-molds us.

We, the Church, the body of Christ, should not shy of voicing uncomfortable truths. Let me tell you the truth. When we preach the Lordship of Christ over all things in our lives, we preach uncomfortable truth. When we challenge ourselves to live a Christ-centered and Bible-based life, we swim against the tide. When we put God first, we are in war against the values of our culture. When we live in faithfulness to the Scripture, we live the most uncomfortable and inconvenient truth. Yet, full joy and abundant peace are the outcome of embracing and pursuing this uncomfortable truth. The Christian Church has the strangest message any messenger may deliver: death is the way of life, suffering is the way of glory, taking the yoke of Christ upon us is our ultimate freedom and rest. Friends, this is both the most uncomfortable and comforting truth of Easter!

Second: Our Call to Live as Easter People

There is a second way we see how Easter was and is still uncomfortable truth for so many. For us, Christians, the resurrection of Christ Jesus is the central tenant of our faith. Without the resurrection the feeble messianic movement associated with an itinerant teacher from Nazareth would be nothing more than an obscure footnote in human history. But I often wonder if my faith and the way it’s lived out reflects the uncomfortable truth of a resurrected MessiahIt’s no accident Matthew’s account of the authorities’ cover-up is followed so closely by the Great Commission. It simply hammers home what many would rather deny: that Jesus is Lord – He possesses all authority in heaven and on earth (Matt 28:18) and that kind of authority makes what are often uncomfortable demands – to go … to disciple … to teach … to obey.

This Easter I pray you’ll not only experience the wonder and celebration of knowing that Jesus lives, but that you’re also uncomfortable … at least a bit.  I pray that the joy of knowing that Jesus died for our sins and lives that we might live eternally is coupled with an acute awareness that He has called each of us to continue the work He started – to proclaim the good news of the Gospel and to live lives that honor God.

In The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism, Timothy Killer, the Pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City, NY, says, “If Jesus rose from the dead, then you have to accept all that He said; if He didn’t rise from the dead, then why worry about any of what He said? The issue on which everything hangs is not whether or not you like His teaching but whether or not He rose from the dead.” Friends, a true understanding of Easter will indeed make us uncomfortable. Friends, Christ’s Resurrection changed everything. May we all have the courage to face the uncomfortable truths we need to face and so be brought out into the healing, forgiving light of God, for it is only in this way, as we feel uncomfortable, that we can truly receive the comfort for which our souls and bodies are longing. Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Thanks be to God!

 

 

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