I am writing this at the time of two very significant events: a global pandemic that has dramatically altered life for nearly everyone around the world and the celebration of the historical resurrection of Jesus Christ. One may feel more imminent, and therefore demand more of our attention at this moment. But as Christians, we must be those who choose to center on the event that is, in fact, the most significant of all time.
This Easter is different, and we all know it. Most of us won’t be able to celebrate a sunrise service or invite our neighbors to come with us to our local church. We won’t have our usual Easter meals shared with friends and family, or the traditional egg hunts. We are giving some thought to what Easter will look like, but there are far too many distractions clamoring for our attention: the latest stats on COVID-19, tips on protecting yourself and others from the virus, continued closings and cancellations, growing numbers of those suffering.
As we each feel this tension, it is helpful to remember that celebrating Easter doesn’t mean that those things are insignificant. God knows our sorrows and griefs and has compassion towards his children. But it also means there is something else that matters much more—and that changes the way we understand and interpret this cultural moment in which we find ourselves.
The entire world at this moment longs for a remedy for a very particular disease. We are praying, waiting, hoping that something will be discovered that will end the devastating impact of this virus. But this virus is just one of an infinite number of things that could—and will—take our life. Even if we don’t die of the coronavirus, we will eventually die by something else. It is unavoidable. And our longing for a remedy is much bigger than a specific vaccine for COVID-19. Though we may distract, avoid, and deny, we know that we are all heading for death, and there’s absolutely nothing that we can do to change that.
But something happened 2,000 years ago that changed everything—not just about the coronavirus, but every tear shed, disease contracted, and life ended. The Incarnate Son of God, who had been mangled and crushed to death on a cross, woke up. He rose!
In one way, the Lord is perfectly preparing us for Easter. By disrupting our world and reminding us that our lives hang in the balance, God is priming our hearts to recognize how deeply we need the resurrection of Jesus. As Matthew McCullough says in his book, Remember Death, “You must recognize that anything you might accomplish or acquire in this world is already fading away. Only then will you crave the unfading glory of what Jesus has accomplished and acquired for you. And you need to recognize you are going to lose everything you love in this world before you will hope in an inheritance kept in heaven for you.” A sober awareness of the certainty of our own death must undergird our worship and celebration that Jesus took away the sting of death!
So, as you celebrate the mighty resurrection of our Savior this coming Sunday, I pray that all the ways the day is “not as it should be” would serve as tangible reminders that nothing on this earth is. That is why we hope in a Savior who has forever broken the curse of death so that we will live with him forever. It may feel like the world turned upside down in the last few months, but it can’t compare to the universe-altering moment when the Son of God stepped out of the tomb.