As a father of three children, aged seven and under, I love the lessons I learn by seeing life through my kids’ eyes. Such was the case when our whole family recently sat down to watch C.S. Lewis’ brilliant book The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe come to life in movie form.
In the story, the majestic and powerful lion Aslan – who represents Jesus – lays down his life in place of sinful humans. I didn’t realize how much of an impact it was having on my kids until the resurrected Aslan came walking down the beach after conquering death and the evil one. My youngest son, not quite four, unable to contain himself, yelled in joyful surprise, “He’s not dead anymore!”
His words hit me with a freshness and power that took my breath away. If there’s one thing Nate will take from the movie, I hope it’s that: he’s not dead anymore!
As we celebrate Easter, I know much attention will be placed on the cross and crucifixion of Jesus. And rightly so, because the cross is vitally important to our faith.
But often we overlook, minimize, or even ignore the resurrection, the rest of the story.
From God’s point of view, the problem with humans isn’t just that we’re sinners in need of forgiveness. Our greater problem is that we are dead and in need of life. The key issue isn’t just that I make mistakes and fall short of God’s standards; I’m a dead man who needs to be made alive again.
“But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead” (Ephesians 2:4–5, NLT, emphasis mine).
That’s the reason the encounter between Jesus and Martha in John 11 is so important. Look what Jesus says to Martha as she grieves the loss of her brother Lazarus: “I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying. Everyone who lives in me and believes in me will never ever die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25–26, NLT).
Fast forward to Easter Sunday. The women who come to anoint the body of a dead man find instead an empty tomb and this message from an angel: “Don’t be afraid! I know you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead, just as he said would happen. Come, see where his body was lying” (Matthew 28:5–6, NLT).
Everything hinges on resurrection
The centre of Christianity is not a temple, mosque, or mountain, but a man who walked away from the grave. It isn’t based on a place, but a person. It isn’t about an ideology; it’s an event: the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Without the resurrection of Jesus, Christianity doesn’t exist. If Jesus is dead, we’re spiritually dead, and will remain dead.
“And Christ lives within you, so even though your body will die because of sin, the Spirit gives you life because you have been made right with God. The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, he will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you” (Romans 8:10–11, NLT).
Four hundred years before the birth of Christ, the renowned philosopher Socrates drank poison hemlock and lay down to die. One of his friends asked, “Shall we live again?” The dying Socrates could only reply meekly, “I hope so, but no man can know.”
This is a question most people ask, sooner or later. Is death the end?
The answer is “No.” Not because I say so. Not because I want it to be so. Not because I believe hard enough that it will be so. Death is not the end because of Easter and an empty tomb. Because of these three words: “He is risen!”
The grave is no longer to be feared. Sin is no longer the victor.
Yes, Nate, it’s worth shouting: “He’s not dead anymore!”
—Mike Penninga has a passion for sharing the life-changing news of Jesus Christ in understandable and captivating ways. He has been the lead pastor at Kelowna (B.C.) Gospel Fellowship since March 2009.