by Rev. Edward L. Kast
I’m a night person. I love seeing little points of light pierce the darkness. Everything looks better in the glow of candlelight. That’s why I love Christmas decorations and Christmas celebrations. For me, walking through Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland in Frankenmuth, Mich., is always a treat.
Being a night person, my idea of joyful activity is not getting up before dawn, getting dressed up, and going somewhere to sing Easter hymns. Then, too, most of us probably warm up a whole lot more to a baby being born in humble circumstances than to a dead body coming to life and walking out of a tomb. But that’s only sentiment.
Yes, Christmas is nice. Christmas is wonderful. But Easter is the queen of Christian festivals, the reason we have hope. Easter is far more significant than Christmas. It was centuries before Christ’s birth was celebrated, not only because nobody knew when it happened, but also because it was thought inappropriate. The birthdays of earthly kings were celebrated, not that of God’s eternal Son.
Without the resurrection of Jesus, His birth would have no more significance than that of anyone remembered in history. The Apostle Paul put it well: “If Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. . . . If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins” (1 Cor. 15:14, 17 ESV).
But “in fact Christ has been raised, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep,” as Paul continues in his letter to the church at Corinth. That is our hope, our consolation, “for as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.”
Some theologians accommodate their beliefs to the prevailing culture to make them more acceptable. They try to find in Easter a message of hope and new beginnings while discarding the bodily resurrection of Jesus. Nice sentiment, but faith without the resurrection is wishful thinking. And if one accepts the idea of an almighty God who created life from nothing, what’s so hard about re-creating life from death? Nothing. Absolutely nothing.
It’s hard to believe that someone stole Jesus’ body from under the noses of Roman soldiers. A Roman soldier could be executed for losing someone he guarded. Losing someone, or something, was not looked upon lightly by imperial authorities.
If I really thought Jesus did not rise from death, I’d stop being a Christian in a minute. But I believe that the resurrection is the best (and only) explanation for what transformed Jesus’ disciples suddenly from doubt and despair to bold belief and joy.
Shortly after, God’s confirming Spirit converted the disciples from being closet Christians to confessing Christians—Christians who risked their lives to proclaim Christ’s resurrection. Their cowardice turned into extraordinary courage. People do not die for what they know is a lie.
Can someone convince me that human intelligence is the highest intelligence in the infinite universe and that we are alone? That we are merely evolved animals that live and die with no meaning and purpose? Not likely. In the meantime, I’ll keep believing that there is a Creator God who took the extraordinary step of becoming one of us.
And why did He do that? He did it to take upon His shoulders the responsibility of our sins and to give us the hope of life that is abundant and everlasting. Death is our final enemy, but it’s not the last word. God has the last word, and it’s LIFE.
That’s why I celebrate Easter with great joy, even if I, as a night person, have to get up very early.
About the Author: Rev. Edward L. Kast, emeritus, is a member of Peace Lutheran Church, Saginaw, Mich.