I trust that you, your family and your church had a powerful Resurrection Sunday. Now that all the Easter outfits are put away and the egg hunts and even egg fights (one family I know celebrates Easter with a massive boiled egg fight) are over, we turn to a new week. However, we should remember that the Resurrection story contains powerful truths that can help us win our secular neighbors all year long. Here are three reasons that Easter is essential in our secular age:
1. There is a Tomb.
The tomb is one of the chief antagonists of the Easter story. No one beats the grave. No one escapes this very sure end to our dreams, our work and our time on the planet.
But, the tomb itself is good news for a troubled age. Why? If the Resurrection story is true, then there is a moral order in the universe. The ultimate punishment, death, was meted out to the Person who assumed responsibility for the evil deeds of the entire human race. That is a sad but beautiful component of the Easter story.
The word “evil” sticks in the modern throat because it smacks of religious and moral standards. Many do not dare to cast judgment on the acts of others; but, we intuitively know that some acts deserve nothing less than that description.
The history of humankind is littered with such evil acts. I was reading a story recently about the Mongol invasion of Beijing in 1215. When the Mongols sacked the city, thousands of Chinese women jumped to their deaths from the city’s high walls to avoid the Mongol invaders. One can easily imagine the smoke, the terror and the anguish of this scene. How evil. And, we moderns are no better. The holocaust was evil. Using sarin gas on children is evil.
We need the concept of evil, and we need its corollary: justice. We need the powerful rap of the judge’s gavel that announces guilt and a corresponding sentence.
The tomb means that we live in a universe and we serve a God that condemns evil and requires just punishment. The tomb means that God is loving and just. The tomb means that deep evil requires divine punishment. For these reasons, we need the tomb.
2. The Tomb is Empty.
An empty tomb is the stuff of fairy tales, comic books and sci-fi movies. An empty tomb doesn’t happen in our material modern world. An empty tomb means that something supernatural happened. Exactly.
If the Resurrection is true, it means that the supernatural broke through into our world. Our movies, our plays our greatest stories hope and long for such an event. We mortals realize there is something terribly broken in our reality, and we long for an otherworldly intervention to set it right. But, the modern narrative states we are on our own. We must shake our fist at the darkness of the universe and the human heart and simply make do.
But, if the Resurrection is true, we are not on our own. Jesus suffered the wrath of divine justice so we could one day step from this world into a perfect one. And it gets even better. He broke into our world so we could know Him—so we could know God.
Moderns do not want to admit a world beyond this one, but we all need the empty tomb.
3. The Tomb Lost.
As I mentioned above, the tomb is one of the chief antagonists of the Easter story. The tomb stands for a type of absolute tragedy. Innocence was found guilty. God was killed. Evil prevailed. Period. The tomb was the horrible crescendo of a dark masterpiece.
But then came the Resurrection. Truth showed a deep resilience. Truth triumphed in spite of evil and even because of it. In all its efforts to banish the day, evil only succeeded in hastening the dawn. As Clarence W. Hall so aptly stated, “Easter says you can put truth in a grave, but it won’t stay there.”
The tomb lost. This means that we can live and work in hope. We can struggle with courage against our own faults and the stubborn blackness in all our hearts. We can claim victory and live without shame. We can struggle to redeem our broken world as agents of a coming King that will make all things new, and we can live victoriously no matter how dark our times. We can live with assurance that one day injustice will be swept away, evil will be overthrown and death itself will die.
In summary, the Resurrection’s message of ultimate justice, supernatural intervention and eternal hope is essential for our troubled times.