Here is a quick survey —
– How many people normally spend time thinking about the resurrection more than once a – year during an Easter service?
– How many people have spent time studying the accounts that cover this 50 day period after the crucifixion and leading up to Pentecost?
– How many people have heard of or studied the 7 sayings of Jesus on the cross?
– How many people have heard of or studied the 7 post-resurrections sayings of Christ?
– When you think of the cross, what comes to mind more — Jesus’ death and sacrifice and suffering OR resurrection, victory over sin and death, joy and great hope, radical obedience?
Much ink has been spilt on the topic of the 7 sayings of Christ while he hung on the cross and you can listen to numerous sermons on that topic. I studied these 7 sayings of Jesus on the cross this past Easter and it was a real blessed time leading up to Easter, but for me, Easter kind of came and went.
There is so much anticipation leading up to Easter. Catholics are known to give up things like meat during this Lent season prior to Easter. And all faithful Christians regardless of denomination spend the week leading up to Good Friday in somber reflection and repentance. Then, a one hour Easter service when everyone seems to be esp. cheeful and then it’s over.
For me, that’s been my Easter experience for the most part. A lot of anticipation and buildup, a lot of self-introspection and confession of sins and I kind of tack on the fact that Jesus rose from the grave at the end of that whole purging process.
Maybe this has been your experience. We spend a lot of our energy on Good Friday and Christ’s suffering and our sin and this becomes the normative pattern for our Christian lives. And because that is our emphasis, we spend little time on Easter Sunday and the 50 days that followed — the amazing miracle of the resurrection, the sense of victory, and freedom and enduring hope and the Great Commission.
This imbalance can be seen by the evident lack of sermons and resources and books about the 50 days after Easter Sunday. Try googling it. If you google 7 sayings of Jesus on the cross, you will find hundreds of search results. If you google 7 post-resurrection sayings of Jesus, you will find 1 book and a couple obscure references. By 7 post-resurrection sayings of Jesus, I am referring to the fact that for 40 days, there are 5 major appearances and in those 5 appearances, Jesus spoke 7 times. So that’s what I am referring to as the 7 post-resurrection sayings.
7 sayings of Jesus on the cross – hundreds of search results. 7 post-resurrection sayings of Jesus = a small handful of results. There is an imbalance.
I am in no way trying to diminish the importance of the passion or suffering of Christ and his sacrifice and death on the cross for our sins. I am just saying we need to have a balanced view, that to be a healthy, mature Christian, we need to consider both sides of the story — on one hand, the death of Christ and his great sacrifice and atoning work for our sins, and on the other, His resurrection leading to Pentecost and the birth of the church. Easter Sunday and the resurrection certainly deserves to be more than a once-a-year celebration.