Spring is a wonderful time of year. The air grows warmer. The birds begin to sing. Flowers begin to bloom. Grass that was covered by snow will soon grow fresh and green. Spring even affects our mood. We tend to grow tired and discouraged during a long winter. As spring arrives, we enjoy renewed energy and a fresh outlook on life. We appreciate the warmth and life of spring because we have endured the cold and death of winter.
Spring is also the time we celebrate Easter. Just as we don’t truly appreciate spring until we have experienced winter, we don’t truly appreciate Easter until we ponder death. Already in my short time at United Lutheran Church, I have conducted several funerals. I don’t expect that trend to change, because death is a reality that no one escapes. Death is a gruesome reminder that things are not right in this world. Death is something that we have no control of. Death makes us feel hopeless. Because of death, we long for Easter.
“Dead” is the word that Scripture uses to describe our spiritual condition. It says we were dead in our trespasses and sins (Ephesians 2:1; Colossians 2:13). Because of our spiritual deadness, we deserve death in this world and eternal death in hell (Romans 3:23; Revelation 20:14-15). We have no ability to escape our sinful condition and no ability to escape God’s punishment. In our dead spiritual condition, we are hopeless. Because of this death, we long for Easter.
The message of Easter is hope where there was hopelessness. It is life where there was death. At the cross, Jesus died our death. He took upon Himself all our sin, and He paid the punishment that we deserve. At the end of Good Friday, there was death and seeming hopelessness. The Son of God had died, but Easter was coming.
In apparent defeat, God accomplished His greatest victory. On Easter Sunday, Jesus rose from the dead. Through His death and resurrection, He defeated sin, death and the devil. He won life for us.
Where we were spiritually dead, we are now alive with Christ (Col. 2:13-14; Ephesians 2:5-6). We had no hope of escaping God’s judgment, but Christ has made us right with God. We had no hope of escaping death, but Christ has won eternal life for us. This new life which Christ won for us also includes a new nature which desires to serve God.
As wonderful as spring is, it is a time of transition. Winter has ended, but it doesn’t always feel like it. Summer is coming, but it hasn’t fully arrived. During spring, we still sometimes experience the cold of winter. We still sometimes have snow. We deal with the things winter leaves behind, including lots of dirt and potential flooding. During spring, we don’t experience the full warmth of summer. We don’t experience the fullness of life and plant growth which summer brings.
This is an imperfect illustration of what is often called, “the already and not yet.” Christ has already defeated the devil, but the devil still terrorizes our world. Christ has already defeated sin for us, but even with our new nature, we still struggle against sin. Christ has already defeated death, but people still die.
Christ has already done these things through His death and resurrection. The victory has already been won, but we will not fully experience the results until He returns. It is in heaven with Christ that we will no longer be threatened by the devil. In heaven we will no longer deal with sin. In heaven, there will be no death. As we face the challenges of this world, Easter reminds us of the new life we will fully enjoy forever in Heaven with the One Who died and rose again for us.
Happy Easter. He is risen!