“Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God.”—Romans 5:9 (ESV)
I’ll say it. For many of us, Easter Sunday is not so much a big deal. We get excited because we are getting a 4-day break from work (to travel or sleep), and also eat some good food. We celebrate the day, and get back to our usual grind of keeping the rules and living by them.
If we are going to shout “He is risen, Hallelujah!” on Sunday and then get out our ledger books and start keeping score on Monday, I suggest we keep Easter Sunday in the same category as Fool’s Day. Because the day which is not going to radically alter me, my views, relationships, and devotion to God, is not worth much. We will just tell a few lies and hope that our friends fall for them.
If by Easter Monday we are still looking at God as a rule master who walks around with a big stick, punishing those who fail to keep His rules and rewarding those who do their best, then Jesus means nothing to us. If we still imagine God as an angry Police officer waiting to give us “a taste of our own medicine”, then the resurrection is not the Good News they told us it was. We, of all people, should be pitied.
Easter Sunday has to be bigger than our little systems of tit-for-tat. It has to unsettle us, leaving us lying on our backs and asking: “Holy smokes! Is God crazy?” The hairs on our skin have to stand as we wonder why someone would die at the hands of crooks and still forgive them as they continued to hammer nails through His feet. Easter has to be a big deal.
God has to forgive my sin and remember it no more. Not just that, He has to stop being angry at me—now—this is radical. Yes—God has to stop being mad at me—and I have to stop thinking that He is mad at me. Because if Good Friday means anything, it’s that the wrath that God had towards me was poured out, in its entirety, onto Jesus. Easter Sunday, on the other hand, is the Father’s seal of approval, that he won’t be wrathful towards me anymore. As one person said, “Easter Sunday is the Fathers Amen to the Son’s It is Finished.”
What this means is that until you die (or until Jesus returns), God will deal with you in mercy and grace instead of raging anger. That you can screw up, and go into destructive behaviours, mess up your relationships, break the 10 commandments seventy times seven before ten in the morning and ultimately fall away from God and God will bring you back to Himself with grace. “Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak tenderly to her.” (Hosea 2:14)
Easter Sunday means that you and I have been reconciled to God and that we can never lose that reconciliation. That God’s devotion to us does not depend on our devotion to Him. And that His acceptance of us is not dependent on whether we avoid dangerous situations, or join the church choir, or lead the women’s group in Church. God accepts us because the righteous requirements that would ensure that God forever loves us were met by Jesus Christ on our behalf. (Romans 8:3-4)
Easter Sunday is a declaration that God is no longer an angry rule master but a loving Father (He has been a loving Father all this while but we are just discovering it now). As Robert Capon once wrote: “But all the while, there was one thing we most needed even from the start, and certainly will need from here on out into the New Jerusalem: the ability to take our freedom seriously and act on it, to live not in fear of mistakes but in the knowledge that no mistake can hold a candle to the love that draws us home.” Your unfaithfulness to God will never alter God’s loving faithfulness to you. Never! Let that sink in.
That is your Lifeline, AMEN.