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31 March 2021
Words General Brian Peddle
The Easter story resonates with life and hope, and how we desperately need these in our world today.
Through the years of the Old Testament, we clung to the hope in the prophesies of a Messiah. Through the silence of the years between the Old and New testaments, we clung to the hope that God had not forgotten his people or his promises. Then that hope took on flesh and blood in the person of Jesus, and we witnessed for ourselves that God had remembered the cries of his people, confirming that our hope was not in vain.
We witness a Jesus who taught and modelled forgiveness and love, who partied with tax collectors, dined with sinners, spoke to prostituted women, condemning no one. We see for ourselves a glorious mixture of grace and truth. We are caught in awe and wonder as Jesus turned water into wine, gave sight to the blind, made the lame walk, cast out demons, healed the leper, controlled the wind and waves, and we see for ourselves the inexhaustible power of God.
On Good Friday, it appeared as though hope had gone as the life flowed out of Jesus’ body. This irresistible man of captivating parables, insightful teaching and miracles, with the ability to impact the very fabric of society and people to the utmost depths of their being, was killed on a cross and placed in a tomb. It looked and felt like someone had turned out the light and put a lid on our hope. Then something truly remarkable, life-transforming and world-changing happened: the stone was rolled away, the graveclothes left in a pile – because Jesus was alive! The light was more glorious than ever, and our hope found new heights.
Easter is not simply a remembrance of something that happened in the past – but as we celebrate it, we remind ourselves that the resurrection life is to be an everyday experience. The pandemic we are experiencing makes it feel, at times, similar to Good Friday – as though the light has been turned off and a lid put on our hope. There are many circumstances in life that may cause us to feel like that – natural disasters, illness, unemployment, divorce, drug addiction, bankruptcy, domestic violence, racism. The life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ remind us that God is with us in every circumstance, that he is bigger and more powerful than any circumstance, and that God specialises in the miraculous and the impossible.
When we have given up on ourselves, God still believes in us. When we feel like we are unloved, God shows us Jesus. When we feel like we have made the biggest mistake of our lives, Jesus provides forgiveness. When we are suffocating in the darkness, God shines the light of his presence. When we are despairing, Jesus provides hope.
You see, this resurrection life is a full, abundant, complete and whole life. This resurrection life is a new life, because it is life in Christ and, as such, is free from condemnation. This resurrection life starts the minute we accept Christ as Saviour and continues for all eternity. This resurrection life is dynamic, because the power of God is unleashed in us. The change starts on the inside and transforms how we view everything.
On that first Easter morning, the disciples were still experiencing Roman occupation and all that came with it, but the realisation that Jesus was alive and that every promise had been fulfilled, changed everything. They now had an eternal view, they understood that sin and death had been conquered, that the Kingdom was indeed a spiritual Kingdom and that God reigned supreme over everything. Such understanding would change how they viewed and responded to life in this world because the glorious light of Christ shone in their lives and the hope of eternity was secured. They would never be the same again – just as we will never be the same again if we claim that same resurrection power.
May God bless you as you celebrate the risen Christ. Amen.
General Brian Peddle is the leader of the International Salvation Army.