IVP - Online Pulpit - A Scandalous Event

March 15, 2007

A Scandalous Event

The resurrection of Jesus Christ marks the pivotal, quintessential moment to which Christendom points for its faith. Christ breaking the shackles of death culminates the events of the Word becoming flesh and living among us. What the apostle John wrote about in John 1:14 comes to full fruition in the gospel message of Easter. God incarnate, having fully identified with human life—from birth to death—emerges from a grave, heralding to his followers victory over death, not only for himself but also for them.

These themes mark the central focus of our annual Easter celebrations, and well they should. However, the events of Easter are so well known to us that the familiarity of the holiday might keep us from experiencing the Christ the event commemorates. How do we celebrate when we presume we already know everything there is to know about Easter? If we’re not careful, with the mystery gone, the surprise discovered, and the suspense eliminated, the miraculous moves to the mundane. Christ’s resurrection could seem commonplace, taken for granted, a ho-hum blip in our church comings and goings. Some people know the story so well that it no longer affects them. Some churches blur through Easter as though it were merely an occasion for a pageant, without sensing the depth and impact of what took place on that resurrection morn.

How can we approach Easter so we don’t feel as though there is nothing left forus to discover? How do we celebrate Easter so that we are able tosee something “strange in the familiar” festivities? How can we experience the good news of Easter so that it penetrates the hearts of even those who think they’ve heard it all before?

Perhaps a beginning point is to consider what life would be like if the Easter event hadn’t occurred. If Christ had not died and risen, can you imagine what life today would be like? We would be doomed in the bondage of our own sin and selfishness. Hope of any future would be reduced to despair. Faith would be a mockery. Injustice would rule the earth. We would be bound in a world devoid of Christ’s love. Life would be completely and utterly unbearable were we living in a world doomed by our own personal design. With those thoughts in mind, now consider what Easter means.

Another way to avoid being overtaken by familiarity is to read, really read, the Easter accounts. Don’t skim over the details. Live in the world created by what you’re reading. Don’t read as though it’s merely a familiar friend. Read the accounts as scandalous news, like the news you might read in the morning paper. Read the accounts in all their fear and injustice. Allow your senses to soar. Smell the smells of the city streets in Jerusalem. See the soldiers as they lead Jesus through the mockery of a trial. Feel the crowds closing in around you as you hear the shouts “Crucify him!” Allow the story to come alive again.

Finally, be prayerful and ask God specifically to share a new insight with you about the events related to Jesus’ death and resurrection. If we pray faithfully, God will always be faithful. Who knows? When this Easter season comes, we just might encounter the risen Jesus in ways we’ve only imagined. If we do, I believe we will be changed. I believe it will change our churches!

Posted by Craig Loscalzo at March 15, 2007 10:44 AM Bookmark and Share

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