Christmas may get most of the glory, but Easter Sunday should be the happiest day of the year for Christians. It’s the day where we remember our Saviour, once crucified, now raised to life and reigning over the earth.
This Easter feels different, as the coronavirus pandemic prevents us from gathering to celebrate with God’s people. But in these troubling times, we need the joy of Easter more than ever. Here are two ways that the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus shine out in the darkness of 2020.
The power and wisdom of the cross shines in humanity’s weakness
COVID-19 has spread faster and further than any of us could have imagined as this year began. I keep seeing people triumphantly proclaiming that we’ll beat this pandemic. We won’t. Eventually it will end, but it’ll take lives and livelihoods with it. The measures we’re taking now will slow the virus and thankfully save some lives. But we can’t stop it. We’re fooling ourselves if we think we’re in control.
Yet we need not despair over our powerlessness. When we look at Christ crucified on the cross, we see God’s power on display. It looks like weakness and foolishness to the world: “For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God” (1 Corinthians 1:18).
Where some see a deluded man defeated by the might of the Roman empire, we see our mighty God who willingly went to his death out of love for us. God doesn’t choose the powerful, rich, and beautiful to be part of his kingdom. Instead, he saves those who look at Jesus hanging on the cross and recognise that they are utterly lost. Our sin condemns us before our good and just God. We cannot earn his approval or make up for all the evil we have done. But he pays the price for us. When we humble ourselves before him we are welcomed into his kingdom and family.
How does this help us against the threat of coronavirus? It teaches us that we shouldn’t boast in our own power. Easter is a reminder that we can let go of trying to control our lives—our bank accounts, health, and relationships. Because we have a loving and mighty God, whose wisdom is far above ours, we can rest and trust in him whatever happens.
The power of the resurrection gives unending hope
Death is a terrible evil, and we’re seeing more of it than we’re used to at the moment. It is right to grieve and weep for the over 100,000 people who have died so far in this pandemic. We must also remember that death is not the end. Because Jesus rose to live again, we have the certain hope that he will return to establish his eternal kingdom. One day—one blessed day—we who trust in Jesus will sing out:
Death is swallowed up in victory.
O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?
(1 Corinthians 15:55)
Jesus was raised first. We will be raised to life as well so we can live with him in perfect joy forever. Our hope is not based on finding happiness and security in this life. Instead, we look forward to the life to come where death will never again haunt our footsteps.
Good Friday puts our crucified Saviour on display. Easter Sunday shows us the empty tomb and the risen King. But what of Saturday, that day in between? Perhaps we ought to give Saturday more consideration than usual in this pandemic. Sam Allberry points out that this day is a model for what we experience all our lives:
“Holy Saturday. A day of in between. A grave is about to be emptied, but not yet. The joy of knowing what’s coming; the pain of having to wait for it. An analogy for the whole Christian life.”1
Our whole world is aching right now. In the midst of that this Easter, let’s admit our helplessness, look to the cross, and bring our pain before God as we wait for the redemption he has promised to us.