The Turning Point, Not the Finale

A Meditation for Easter and Holy Week by President Mark Labberton

Easter Reflection ImageIt’s my joy to look forward with you to Resurrection Day in the name of our Risen Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ. As a brother in Christ, and on behalf of Fuller Theological Seminary, my prayer is that the reality of God’s transformative love and power fills you with hope.

Any given day can provide many with more than enough reasons for discouragement and defeat—reasons within and all around us. Sometimes these are temporary circumstances. But other times, we face chronic factors that seem to have no horizon of change or hope.

We cannot overstate the goodness and faithfulness of our Lord in Easter, but we can misstate it. I have heard some Easter sermons that leave the impression that the resurrection of our Lord is like a spiritual sleight of hand, like the proverbial rabbit out of a hat, from death comes life. Or Easter can sometimes sound like a magical spot-remover that erases everything from sin to pain to death—a topical application without depth or substance. Or it may seem to be a well-intended fantasy, like the thought that computers would lead to a paperless world.

The deep work of Holy Week—from Palm Sunday to Good Friday, and culminating on Easter—is in fact an unexpected and unparalleled surprise. Easter announces nothing less than the start of God’s work of re-creation when the firstborn of all creation becomes the firstborn from the dead (Colossians 1:15-18), and God’s new creation begins. This universe-altering act outstrips our categories and our language. It’s the decisive but not final act in God’s work of making all things new (2 Corinthians 5:17). It’s the turning point, not the finale

In our world of chronic need—injustice, sorrow, suffering, confusion, and death—Easter is the best possible news. The resurrection is not a trick, not a kind of magic, not a fantasy. It is the beginning of God’s new reality that we can trust and anticipate, that by the Spirit we can experience, and that this side of glory we can see, but we see through a glass darkly. It is the ground of our hope.

I love the triumph and victory of Easter music and its grand resolved chords. That is part of Easter. So too is the importance of some minor chords, some unresolved pieces that signal our hope is born in a real world, not yet fully transformed, but one that, because of Easter, will one day be made fully right.

May the Risen Christ mean we can live in hope for our world and for ourselves.
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