This Sunday, nearly every church around the world will focus on the most important doctrine of the Christian faith: the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. Now for many, Easter Sunday will be just another day. This is not unusual seeing how the majority of humanity went about in a “business as usual” sort of way on the very first Easter morn. However, for those who have been granted the Spirit of Christ this day is special.
Why is Easter so important? There is one sense where every Sunday is Easter Sunday. Every Sunday the saints gather together to hear the Word of God and learn about the gospel or good news that Christ has conquered death. But this Sunday is set apart to focus on this unique act of our King. We find in the resurrection that precise moment of transition where Christ’s suffering, and humiliation is immediately and sensibly brought to an end. He who was abused, abandoned, victimized, tortured, crucified, killed, and pierced was no longer dominated by those things.
Even in His nail-pierced hands and feet, these scars are no longer demonstrations of weakness, but pledges and badges of His triumphant victory. In theology this is often spoken of as the exaltation of Christ. He conquered death. But even more stunningly, His death conquered Death for all of His sheep.
We can say confidently then that the resurrection of Jesus Christ is in fact the hinge of Christianity. This is so often forgotten and not merely by progressive or liberal Christianity. I write with my cards laid before you. I am a conservative Presbyterian who believes in the infallibility and inerrancy of Scripture. I believe in the bodily resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ, His substitutionary death, and the need for His blood to cover my sin or else I am hopeless and awaiting the wrath of God. In other words, I believe in historic Christianity. But I mention this all to say that conservatives and progressives alike have often forsaken this doctrine as central, and for various reasons.
The progressives have often forsaken the simple historical resurrection of Christ and replaced its centrality with something far more relevant and attractive or philosophical reasons (such as antisupernaturalism or something of the like). They may advocate that Christianity is about social justice, or inclusion, or the victory of Christ to be applied to all indiscriminately regardless of lifestyle or creed (in what manner I’m not sure). But the conservatives have also forsaken this centrality of the resurrection of Christ when we lift up something else in Christ’s place like Christian tribalism, elevating secondary and tertiary doctrines to a place of inappropriate priority such as one’s view of church structure, arguments on baptism, arguments on worship preferences, etc. I clearly have an opinion on all of these matters, and I don’t believe for a minute that they are inconsequential or indifferent. But the heart of the Christian faith must remain focused on the empty tomb and the angelic and apostolic witness (cf. Matthew 28).
The tomb that is empty allows each believer upon its inspection to shout for joy even as they are surrounded by all the evidence of death, because Christ stepped emerged from the crypt victorious. When Christ walked out of the tomb in His glorified resurrected body, He left our shame and guilt in it. He left every conviction that Satan would ever accuse us of in the tomb. For he was raised for our justification as Paul writes in Romans 4. When Christ departed from the tomb, He left his burial cloths because He would never again need them. When Christ departed from that tomb, He left with the blessing of His Heavenly Father who by raising Christ proved to the Pharisees, the Scribes, the Elders, Pontius Pilate, the Roman soldiers, and every soul that would ever live that Jesus Christ spoke truly as the Messiah, the Son of Man, the Son of God.
So what makes Easter special? It is a holy day where the saints of Christ remember that this miserable life full of our sin and the sins of others does not get the last word. It is a reminder that just as Jesus has gone to heaven, one day so shall I and everyone who believes in Him. Easter is a promise that every word we read in the Bible is true because God’s miracles verify boldly every syllable, word, and sentence of the Scriptures. The resurrection proves once and for all that Jesus really is precisely who He says He is: the King of Kings, the Lord of Lords, the eternal Son of God by whom salvation is extended to all who believe in Him.