The resurrection of Jesus mattersWritten by Michael Ridgeway
In Sunday school classes every Easter, the details of Jesus’ resurrection take centre stage. The empty tomb. The massive stone mysteriously rolled away. The angels announcing the risen Christ. His miraculous appearance to hundreds of followers. It’s a dramatic story, the stuff of movies.
But what often gets lost in drama is an understanding of why the resurrection matters to us today. Easter is more than an exciting story; it is the one story that fundamentally transforms our lives. And that story must be seen in its complete context: the grand narrative of the Gospel that runs through every book of the Bible.
As we celebrate Easter with our families this year, let’s help our kids take a closer look at the Gospel story to discover how it changes everything about our lives.
The story opens “in the beginning,” in the very first verse of the Bible, with the creation of all things. God spoke, and the universe leapt into existence. He created billions of galaxies, filled with trillions of stars. Around one star he placed a planet populated with a staggering array of life.
And in the midst of all this immensity and beauty, God created a man and a woman. He placed them in a garden, where they lived, unashamed, in his holy presence, enjoying a perfect relationship with their Creator.
In perfect relationship
But something changed. The goodness and perfection of his creation did not last. A Deceiver entered the garden, and disguising his treacherous words as wisdom, he planted doubt in the minds of the man and the woman, stirring within them a nagging question: Why has God forbidden us to eat from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil?
“For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened” the Deceiver whispered, “and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (Genesis 3:5).
Why would God withhold such a desirable thing?
In their weakness, the man and woman ate from that tree, thinking it would satisfy their desire to be like God. And in doing so, they lost the one thing that truly could satisfy them – God’s presence.
Sin marred God’s creation, and suffering entered the world. Generations of men and women continued to doubt God and to trust their own hearts, trapping the world in sin and brokenness.
Going our own way
Romans 1:18-32; 3:9-18; 5:12-14
But the tragedy of sin could not thwart God’s plan for his creation. He promised to one day defeat sin and bring his people back into his presence. Across the ages, his plan of redemption was revealed through the prophets: he would send a Messiah, who would restore God’s kingdom and remove the gulf between God and man.
But not even the prophets anticipated just how astonishing this Messiah would be. God himself became human, entering our broken world so he could take our sins upon himself and die the death we deserved. Jesus, the Son of God, transcended everything the Jewish people thought they knew about the Messiah. He was God incarnate, God made flesh. He lived a perfect, sinless life and yet suffered the full weight of the brokenness and death that were brought by sin.
As he hung on the Cross, he cried out, “My God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46). The son felt the crushing darkness of the father’s absence. The only human who never turned away from God now felt God turn away from him. Jesus suffered the spiritual death that plagued all humanity, and it was almost too much for him to bear. And in that terrible and beautiful moment of his death, the curse of sin was undone. God had redeemed his beloved people and removed the barrier that separated them from his presence.
The curse is undone
2 Corinthians 5:17-19
Jesus was placed in a tomb, and the tomb was sealed with a large stone. But on the morning of the third day, the grave could not contain him. The resurrection of Jesus happened.
Others had been raised from the dead before (Jesus’ friend Lazarus and the widow’s son in 1 Kings), but their victory over death was only temporary. Jesus was the first ever to be resurrected – to rise from the grave with a glorified body, never to taste death again. He conquered death once and for all, and his resurrection signalled the beginning of the restoration of all things. God promised that all who trust in him will one day be resurrected, too, and we will know the incomparable joy of God’s presence for eternity. As we wait for this, we are already experiencing glimpses of his presence in our daily lives. God is restoring us right now – healing our wounds, freeing us from the power of sin, gently teaching us to trust him.
Restored and renewed
1 Corinthians 15:1-56
The resurrection: Why the Gospel matters
In ancient Greek, the word gospel means “good news.” And why is the story of Creation, the Fall, redemption and restoration such good news? There are at least three reasons that relate to the resurrection. Through the Gospel, we see that:
We don’t need to earn God’s approval.
The Cross showed us the depth of the darkness within us, as well as the immensity of God’s love for us. In his effort to destroy the sin that was destroying us, God held nothing back, not even his only Son. It was the greatest act of sacrificial love the world has ever known. And because he loved us in this way while our hearts were still rebelling against him, we know his love is unconditional. We can do nothing to make him love us any less or any more than he already does.
This truth brings amazing freedom. It means that we can stop trying to earn his approval. In fact, any attempt to earn it – whether by church attendance, service to the poor or flawless moral behaviour – amounts to self-righteousness. It is an attempt to save ourselves, rather than relying on the work that Jesus has already accomplished for us. But when we look at the Cross, we stop trying to manage our sin and let God’s love transform our hearts.
We don’t need to prove ourselves.
In all of us there is a desperate need to know that we are OK, that we are valuable and worthy. And each one of us attempts to satisfy this need in different ways. Through personal achievement. Wealth. Beauty. Family. Popularity. Moral virtue. This drive to prove our value is exhausting. If we manage to achieve some standard that gives us a sense of worth, the feeling is only temporary, and before long we are right back at it, striving to prove ourselves once again.
The Gospel, however, tells us that we already have inestimable worth. The Creator of the universe found us so valuable that he gave up his own life in order to save us. We are OK because his death on the Cross has made us OK – made us worthy of a relationship with him. And as we stop struggling to accomplish what God has already attained for us, life becomes much richer and more joyful. We stop using work, school, sports, family and friendships as a means to prove ourselves, and instead simply enjoy these things for their own sake.
We don’t need to worry about our future.
The Gospel assures us that God is good and that he is all-powerful. He created the universe and everything in it, and despite the curse of sin that we brought upon this world, God has always been in control of the march of history. When we see that God is sovereign and his plans for us are good, then we realize that we have no reason to worry – even when our circumstances are difficult and the future is uncertain. He is in the process of restoring our lives and healing our brokenness. As this truth becomes real to us, our trust in him deepens and our anxious hearts are calmed with an unshakable peace.
The Resurrection is the most important event in human history. It changed the course of humanity – and it continually transforms our lives today. As we celebrate Easter, let’s help our kids see how the full Gospel story really does change everything.
© 2020 Focus on the Family. All rights reserved. Used with permission. Originally published at FocusOnTheFamily.com.
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