As the Church throughout the world celebrates Easter, ABTS faculty reflected on the meaning of Easter and the message of new life and transformation that the cross and resurrection bring. Our faculty members share their reflections below, along with their Easter greetings.
While we are occupied with the two most significant and dearest truths for us, Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection, we sometimes forget His burial. The burial of Jesus is a historical fact recorded in all the gospels, and Paul asserts: “Christ died for our sins, and was buried and raised” (1 Corinthians 15: 3-4). It is repeated in the Nicene Creed: “For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate, he suffered death and was buried, and rose again on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures.” The emphasis on the burial of Jesus reaffirms two things: the truth of his death, and the truth of his resurrection. There is no real death without real burial, and no real resurrection without real death and burial. There is a profound theological connotation of the burial of Jesus, reflected in the lives of those who believe in Him. For those who believed in Jesus died with him, and were buried with him and raised with Him, so Jesus’ life appears in them. Paul says: all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death. We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead, we too may live a new life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his. For we know that our old self was crucified with him that we should no longer be slaves to sin, because anyone who has died has been set free from sin… In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus (Romans 6: 3-11).
The cross and resurrection speak of God’s power over death and the bringing of new life. This power is not merely a theological affirmation, but a present reality available through his Spirit day by day. We live in a world of “death” – not just physical but emotional, relational, and societal. As followers of Jesus we are in a unique situation as we draw on His spiritual power to bring the message of life to those who are suffering, weak, and in situations of personal or communal struggle. The message of Easter is a message of hope even in the darkest times.
How do we celebrate?
We celebrate with awe at God’s astonishing love and indestructible life.
We celebrate with humility, for our Lord bore the cross humbly, and our sins were the cause of His grief.
We celebrate with breathless proclamation, for, like Mary Magdalene, we have the best good news to tell.
We celebrate boldly, for King Jesus has overcome shame and death, and there is nothing left to fear.
We celebrate together, for we are unified by Christ’s torn body.
We celebrate with the bread of remembrance and the wine of the covenant, for in them the life of the risen Christ is made known.
We celebrate resolutely, for Jesus has shown us the path of loss we must follow to share His victory.
We celebrate every year in the spring, every first day of the week, and every morning as the sun begins to rise, for in Christ each new beginning is a tantalizing appetizer of the life of the age to come.
As the Church throughout the world celebrates Easter, we celebrate not just the event of Christ’s death and resurrection 2000 years ago. Easter is a celebration of God’s self-giving nature from creation to final consummation. More specifically, Easter is an act of worship that we perform in gratefulness and celebration of the incarnation, of Christ’s self-giving life, of his eventual giving up of his life on the cross, of his resurrection that overpowered death, and of his ascension where, as the first fruit of those who will be raised from the dead into eternal life, Jesus sat at the right hand of God to restore our pathetic human condition to its former glory and dignity bestowed on us at creation. Easter brings the self-giving acts of God to full circle. Together with the whole creation, we bow down and worship before the magnitude of the Triune God, before his grace and magnanimity towards us.
When we know that death is not the end, that Sunday comes after Friday, there is hope. As we celebrate Easter in a region whose map is colored by war and instability, we know that there is hope. There is hope that the broken-hearted will be healed. There is hope that those who mourn will be comforted. There is hope that the Risen Christ will give garment of praise instead of a spirit of heaviness, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, liberty instead of slavery. There is hope that the ruins will be restored, and peace will reign (Isaiah 61: 1–7). As we celebrate Easter, we are reminded that there is hope; hope that motivates us to press on as we continue following in this part of the world the risen Master. In other words, through Jesus’ death and resurrection we continue working alongside God to see that the promised eschatological transformation of our world becomes a reality.
The books of the bible narrate a thousand stories of transformation all wrapped up in one: God does not give up on His creation. When the earth lay in darkness, the voice of the creator ordered light. When Sarah’s womb lay barren, the voice of the creator ordered birth. When the people lay in captivity, the voice of the creator shouted freedom. When person after person lay in despair, the voice of the creator ordered hope. When the one and only son, the chosen savior and beloved heir, lay in the grasps of death, the voice of the creator thundered life. As we join the story of this creator, individuals and groups, may we continue to hear His voice, let there be light, and be His voice, let there be light. Above all, let us hold fast onto Jesus. It is good to be on his side. But woe be to us if we find ourselves on the side of darkness. His voice will tear us apart. Let there be light.