Charles Dickens began his famous novel, “The Tale of Two Cities” with the words: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times; it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity . . .” Dickens wrote about the years leading up to the French revolution; they could equally apply to the strange and troublesome world we live in today as we wrestle with the ravages of Covid-19.
This weekend, Christians all around the world celebrate the greatest act of self-sacrifice and love ever known. We’ll worship in large congregations, in small gatherings in homes, and for some (due to Covid restrictions), we’ll worship online.
At the epicenter of our Christian faith is a divine act of love. Jesus described the greatest expression of love as when a person voluntarily lays down his life for another. And this he willing did.
The death of Jesus on a cross was not an accident. It wasn’t the premature martyrdom of a religious hero. Nor was his resurrection a hastily arranged remedial act for something that took God by surprise.
No, our Lord Jesus’s death and resurrection were all part of a master strategy to destroy the law of sin and death. It was the pinnacle of Jesus’ mission, at the behest of his father. The very Son of God satisfied the justice of God, as the apostle Peter would later recall, borrowing words from the prophet Isaiah:
“He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.”
When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly. “He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.”
1 Peter 2:22-24
But then, just as he had predicted, Jesus was raised from the grave. Our evangelical cross is empty! “Death was swallowed up in victory.” How did Paul put it:
“Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
1 Corinthians 15:55-57
The compulsion and consequence of human sin-sickness were forever defeated. The legacy of hope and restored connection with God is available to all.
This is our celebration this Easter weekend. We reflect, and we mourn, and we take stock of our lives before God. And then we celebrate the victory of God over the power of evil!
Thomas Schirrmacher, Peirong Lin, and myself, as the Office of Secretary-General for the 600 million believers who identify as evangelicals, wish you a blessed Easter.
Christ has risen! He has risen indeed!
Rev. Dr. Brian Winslade
World Evangelical Alliance
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