C.K. Barrett on The Victory of Easter

C.K. Barrett on The Victory of Easter March 2, 2024

A sermon given at Bowburn 1984

A great event.  No doubt we all know what we mean. But is it rightly stated?  Let me be clear. Many timely and important have been and will be said. I do not question still less contradict them, but a series of puzzles such as this mus provoke questions.  And this I am doing. Not on my own account, I start from two texts.

Col. 2.14f.– the charge which stood against us with its legal demands this he set aside, nailing it to the cross.  He disarmed the principalities and powers and made a public show of them, triumphing over them in the cross.   Here the victory is in the cross; nothing about Easter.

1 Cor. 15.25f. He must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy that will be destroyed is death.  So, final victory, is not yet won, though there have been successes on the way.  Again Easter is not mentioned.

Let me repeat, lest you forget, I am not saying Easter doesn’t matter let us forget it.  I find myself provoked to think and I pose this so let us take this further.  The victory of the End (like the winning of the English cup finals) we can understand. It is however not easy to describe. But the NT gives us wonderful hints, necessarily in pictures.

Rev. 7.15-17– God will wipe away all tears from their eyes. (21.3,4,22-27).  Rebellion against God is at an end; nothing contradicts his holy and loving will, not even death.   Of course all this is full of problems for the philosopher– life without time? ‘Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard’ but note how Paul continues in 1 Cor. 2.10— ‘these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit’.   So we can imaginatively understand the final victory, but it has not happened yet.

The victory of the cross is even easier to understand. Here is the record of the man who won all the battles I have.

Against selfishness, against fear, against bitterness, against cowardice.  And all this has already happened.  It is part of history, whatever the TV pundits may say!  BUT, it has not happened to me. Hence the definition mentioned above– he won the battles I have.

After all this, where does the victory of Easter come in?  We can now say something positive.  1) It is part of the story of Jesus (but I shall not linger over  this). I do not know how to explain it, except that something ‘out of this world’ happened is as plain as Waterloo and for the same reason— results!   As plain as the splitting of the atom– again because of the results.   2) For us.  Easter means ‘distributing the victory of the cross’; that life as HE lived it begins to be possible for us. 3) For us. Easter means the anticipation of the victory of the End. The life of the age to come can be lived now. In practical terms, these two amount to the same  thing— the thing we always know the victory of Easter meant, though we have , I hope, approached it plausibly.   Paul puts it as ‘dying and rising with Christ’, reminding us that Good Friday are not just an ancient tale.

Consider Col. 3.5-17 about crucifixion and resurrection—-

Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming.[a] You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. 11 Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.

12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. 16 Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. 17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.’




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