April 2012

Easter thoughts

I am well aware that the topic of the death and resurrection of Jesus which we celebrate especially around Easter is one of those topics that shows the real and ever increasing gap between Christians and the rest of society.

For Christians, the crucifixion and resurrection are the pivotal events that define what and who we are. For the rest of society, whether secular, atheist, or adherent to another religion, the ‘Easter event’ (the death and resurrection) at best leaves them indifferent or bemused, at worse totally baffled or hostile.

Easter is the one event that truly separates Christianity from other philosophies and religions.

If Jesus was just a wise teacher (and he was) there are plenty of other good teachers and philosophers to listen to, discuss or follow. Some of them are better teachers and some worse, and we could happily spend our time comparing the pithy saying of the better ones. We could compare the wisdom of The Buddha, Mohammed and Jesus and we would be better people for it.

If Jesus was just a good man (and he was) there are plenty of biographies of inspiring lives available that we could read and films that we could watch. From humble people to the greats of history and faith, discovering what qualities these men and women possessed can be inspirational and motivational.

If Jesus was just a radical, challenging the status quo (and he was) we could look at him as well as other radicals and even revolutionaries and discover many of the areas of human society that contain oppression and disintegration. We could analyse and try to transform society into a more just and caring civilization.

These are all good and they are facets of Jesus as revealed in the bible. But it is Easter that puts Jesus in a category of his own.

It’s not that Jesus died, or even the method of his death, that is unusual. All people die, and there have been ten of thousands of crucifixions and other inhumane methods of executions. What separates Jesus’ death from every one of the wise teachers, good people and radicals is that his death was transformed by his resurrection a few days later. The resurrection shows that Jesus was exceptional in the true sense of the word; that he was both human and God.

We have a profound choice as we remember and celebrate this Easter. Are we remembering just a good man, wise teacher and uncomfortable gadfly? Or is it a more profound event?
          Do we remember the Man who is God,
          and the God who lived and died for us,
          and is with us still?

April 2012