I’ve been privileged these past few years to have made some new friends where I work. Some of them have had life-changing encounters with the living God and now identify as Christians. Not one of them would ever claim that life has become easy since then, but they’d all say that life now makes sense to them and that they finally have a purpose.
At Easter, when we hear again the story of how Jesus was crucified and raised from the dead, I can’t help but reflect on the people from the streets who have been brought back to life. We see many people in our shelters that are merely surviving but not really living. At times, we have the privilege of witnessing some of them raised from the dead when they experience the healing and transforming love of Jesus and embrace it. And I wonder: What does Easter mean to them?
In our churches, we often hear sermons with complex theological perspectives on the crucifixion and resurrection. But our community isn’t looking for sophisticated theology. Precise understandings of “crucifixion” and “resurrection” make for good debate and discussion in the hallways of seminaries, but they provide cold comfort on the street.
What I mean is, these terms seem like theological topics to be placed in categories in much the same way that a pantry has different cupboards for food. To our friends close to the street, the pantry is of some vague interest, but cooking, and more importantly eating, is what’s of vital importance.
In the same way, “crucifixion” and “resurrection” hold the same vague interest to them as the pantry. But it is Jesus, the Friend who is alive and will stop, talk and walk with them along their journey, who is most precious to them. It is not the crucifixion itself but the Crucified One who resonates with our people. It is not the resurrection itself but the Risen One who never ignores a cry for help—He is the one so crucial to them and on whom they depend.
As a Christian at Easter, my question is this: What is the significance of Easter outside of the hallowed hallways of our seminaries and churches? Do we dwell on the crucifixion as a spectacle that Christians get teary about once a year? Or do we dwell on Christ’s death and resurrection and the power manifested in those historical events to revive and rejuvenate people who are dead?
Even though life hasn’t become easy just because some people have decided to take the Jesus Way, their lives have dramatically changed and have taken on meaning.
That, to me, is the glory of Easter.