What Difference Does Easter Make?

This is an outline of a talk I gave at Willow Creek last night:

What Difference Does Easter Make?

We tend to be Good Friday in our gospel: Jesus died for us.
We tend to be Good Friday Christians too: my sins are forgiven.
What good is Easter? What difference does the resurrection make for life today?

The necessity and centrality of the resurrection, and we are incomplete in gospel and Christian life without the resurrection.

First three Christian sermons: Acts 2:36; 3:15; 4:10
Paul’s clear message: 1 Corinthians 15:17
Somewhere we lost contact with the centrality of resurrection and we have now too much of a Good Friday only gospel.

A Good Friday and Easter gospel that makes for a Good Friday and Easter Christian life.

The theme of tonight’s session then is this: Easter brings New Creation.
Frederick Buechner has said this beautifully: “Resurrection means the worst thing is never the last thing.”
If resurrection means new creation, what does it mean for us in our daily living?

1. We need to affirm daily that we are New Creation 2 Cor 5:17: “If anyone is in Christ, new creation! The old is gone, behold all things are new!”

2. New Creation means age-old boundaries are now demolished.Galatians 6:15 (see Gal 3:28)

3. New Creation means personal transformation Romans 12:1-2

4. New Creation means seeing beyond suffering 2 Corinthians 6:4-10.

5. New Creation means death is not the last word Matthew 27:51-53

6. New Creation living for the New Heavens and New Earth Rev 21—22

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  • Calebite

    I’ve been thinking resurrection implications all week, planning a sermon series for the next 6 Sundays of Easter on the centrality of the resurrection. Looks like I just found some good source material!

    I appreciate the fact that this site is not only intellectually challenging, but pastoral as well. Thanks!

  • KDC

    Amen! I spent Easter in a Greek Orthodox Church (Resurrection Liturgy at midnight) and the brief homily mentioned the same thing: the importance of the resurrection, but the tendency for many Christian circles to focus only on the death. The Orthodox Church is all about resurrection. It’s good to see that there is a recognition of this unbalanced Easter message (or as the Orthodox call it “Pascha”).

  • Brianmpei

    Well, that takes care of my talk for next year! Thank you!

  • Will the audio for this be available? I would love to hear it.

    I was feeling this on sunday when all I heard was stuff about Jesus’ death. Like since there are all these new people in church we need to make sure they hear the “important” stuff about his death. It drives me crazy!

    All that to say, this looks great.

  • Tony Springer

    Thanks for the outline. We need both the cross and the resurrection. Do you think that sometimes Christianity has become too Easter in our gospel and an Easter Christianity? Do you think that there is a historical cycle where Christian move from one to the other? or possibly some Christians overemphasize one over the other? I think that when large evangelical churches began to produce large passion plays over Easter (and also The Passion movie), the cross has drawn more attention than the empty tomb. These plays spend more time on the way to the cross and the crucifixion than on the resurrection. Has the cross become the denouement and the resurrection the epilogue?

  • I think this is surely related to the discussion going on in the Adam Sin Death thread. If our problem at root is moral guilt, then Good Friday is the bulk of the good news and Easter Sunday is the garnish for the future after life.

    However, if our problem at root is that we are prisoners and Death and Evil reign over us, then Easter Sunday is the bulk of the good news, and Good Friday is the essential atonement that releases the power of God on Sunday. Friday binds the strong man in a surprising way, so the looting of his house can begin on Sunday. Or something like that.

    I have been convinced of this – the dilemmas and dichotomies we keep finding ourselves in as we try to understand salvation, are rooted in misunderstanding the problem. I’m trying to get clearer on the problem Jesus is solving, believing that I will then gain depth on understanding – and appropriating – His solution.

  • Thanks Scot – for an expanded version of these thoughts I recommend Tom Wright’s book ‘Surprised by Hope.’ The best book-length treatment of the Christian Hope I’ve ever read.

  • Simply Excellent!

  • Don

    Great thought Scot! I am overwhelmed by the amount of contemporary christian music that camps out at the cross and has little about resurrection power, presence and direction.

  • Brian Considine

    Great outline Scot! I hope you will flush out these thoughts for us and put some meat on those bones for discussion.

  • Brian Considine

    What Difference Does Easter Make?

    1. Without Easter we would not know who Jesus is. The history of the man would have been long forgotten as irrelevant. Or, at best some of his teachings and miracles might have been remembered, but by the time of his death most of his disciples had left, so chances are no one would be around to recorded his life.

    2. Without Easter we would not know God loves us. Of course, the New Testament that tells us of God’s love would never have been written. We might have the Torah and Psalm, but we certainly would have a different idea about God. Of course, we probably be scratching our heads over the Prophets.

    3. Without Easter, Europeans would have had a very different worldview and undoubtedly life would be very different today. Religious persecution would never have sent bands of English and Dutch to colonize the Americas, and seek religious freedom, which worked toward the establisment of a new nation.

    4. We would therefore have no idea that we are forgiven and have an abundant and eternal life available to us, that we can enter into that is so much more than what so many live out, even in the Church, which of course would not be here either.

    If resurrection means new creation, what does it mean for us in our daily living?

    It should mean everything. This idea of the resurrected life was articulated well by Ray Steadman: –“resurrection power is like no other power on earth. It is unique, and has no possible rival. For one thing, it is the kind of power that operates in the midst of death. It works when everything around it is dull, dead and barren…Resurrection power is also irresistible. It cannot be thwarted or turned aside…Furthermore, resurrection power makes no noise…Without any display or ostentation it quietly accomplishes its purpose though there is nothing audible or visible to mark it. When a Christian is living by resurrection power he does not advertise it or seek to dazzle others by its display… the inevitable effect of resurrection power at work: the return of life, vitality, excitement and joy…

  • tim e

    thanks for that scot..i even didnt go to easter service this year for the very reason that most services never get past good friday and its like he never came off the cross!! excellent post!!