There are moments of discovery and experimental success that are so unexpected and profound they nullify everything before them and restructure everything that follows.
For years, everyone knew people couldn’t fly. Birds could fly, but they had wings. People didn’t have wings. Then, in a little place in North Carolina, the Wright brothers got an airplane to stay in the air for a couple of hundred feet and everything changed. The next thing we know, we are flying across the oceans, faster than the speed of sound.
In a moment, everything changed.
Copernicus proposed a new way of understanding the universe. According to his calculations, the earth revolved around the sun and not the other way around. This changed a lot of things. For one thing, it meant our planet earth wasn’t the center of the solar system, and if earth wasn’t the center of the solar system, then humanity wasn’t the center of the universe.
The discovery of fire, the birth of agriculture, the establishment of cities — one moment our world is one way and the next moment it’s totally changed.
One moment, the followers of Jesus understood the world one way, and the next moment, everything had changed.
One moment, they were in grief, and the next moment, they were sharing indescribable joy.
One moment, Jesus was dead. Now, Jesus was alive.
One moment, all hope was lost, and the next moment, hope was made eternal.
Now, everything had to be rethought. What we thought we knew about God, Jesus, salvation, death, life hope, meaning and purpose, creation and eschatology — all of that changed. We had to rethink everything.
For instance, we were wrong about Jesus. For most people, Jesus was a prophetic rabbi from Galilee. He had some intriguing concepts about life and love, and listening to His teachings seemed to make a lot of sense. His miracles added a depth of power we had seen in few, if any, teachers.
But now, Jesus has been raised from the dead. His resurrection underlines and ignites His words in way we’ve never seen before. More than a very wise teacher, Jesus is now the conqueror of death. His is the Son of God, the Promised Messiah. Jesus is Lord.
Jesus doesn’t accurately describe reality. Jesus defines reality. Jesus doesn’t offer us an informed opinion. He brings ultimate truth to us.
We’d better reread the gospels. There’s more to Jesus than we first thought. We need to rethink Jesus.
And we need to rethink the cross. For the early followers of Jesus, the cross was the ultimate tragedy. Jesus had come to do so much good and the powers around Him had conspired to have Jesus executed. His death was seen as the loss of our last hope.
Now, Jesus is alive. So, what does the cross mean in light of the resurrection? The answer can’t be written in the time or space we have. John is right. If the sky was a scroll and the oceans ink, we still wouldn’t have the space or time to fully capture the meaning of God in Christ reconciling the world to Himself. Christ, the sinless One, dies for sinful and humanity. He pays in His death the price none of us could pay.
And in raising Him from the dead, the Father validates the mission and ministry of Christ. The cross marks the way of suffering and self-denying love, and it marks the only way to life.
We need to rethink the cross.
God placed the Cross of Jesus Christ in the center of history and time. From Easter, we look backwards and understand our history and God’s salvation plan played out across the generations. We understand the call of Abraham in a new way. We interpret the life of the nation of Israel through a new lens. We see, as the Bible tells, how just at the right time, God in Christ came into our history.
From the Cross, we understand how the church is called to join Christ in His redemptive work of individuals, families, communities and creation. With His resurrection, Christ has revealed the reality of eternal life and pulled the weight of its future glory into the present. We follow Him into that future, the same future Christ is bringing in Himself to us.
We have to rethink failures and loss.
We have to rethink life and meaning.
We have to think hope and endurance.
We have to rethink love.
We have to rethink everything. Jesus was dead and now He’s alive, and that changes everything.
Every day is a new chance to know Christ. The radical teaching of Christianity is our Rabbi is alive and He’s promised, if we will be still and listen and seek His presence, He’ll teach us just as He taught Peter and John and all of the other disciples.
Every day is a chance to see a little Easter. A broken marriage is restored, a lost child finds their bearings, hate is buried is love, and life is pulled from death in all kinds of moments, both big and small.
We face giants. We deal with our demons. We do it all because our Savior is alive. He loves us so much not even death can keep Him away.
Jesus is still teaching, still showing, and still calling us to follow. His resurrection has made us rethink everything.
Jesus is alive! What does that mean?
Following Christ is the adventure of figuring that out.