As Easter draws near, Christians naturally reflect on the events of Easter. On the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus. These are the most significant events of our faith—and in all of human history.
And it still blows my mind to think of how many Easters I spent rejecting this. I didn’t just disbelieve it, I didn’t care if it was true or not.
My last Easter as a non-Christian is the first where I was reading the Bible. Of course, it wasn’t because I wanted to know Jesus. It was because I wanted to have more ammo for making fun of Christians.
Funny how God works, huh?
What would happen if I told that younger Aaron that just a few weeks from then, he would believe what he sought to mock? What would he do if he learned that all his self-righteousness was worthless?
Honestly, probably that younger me would have laughed.
Today, I’m not laughing. I don’t look at Good Friday and Easter as days inconveniences due to all the stores being closed, but rad because I don’t have to work. I look at them as the gift they are—and with a similar sense of longing that I see in Paul’s words in Philippians 3:
But these assets I have come to regard as liabilities because of Christ. More than that, I now regard all things as liabilities compared to the far greater value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things—indeed, I regard them as dung!—that I may gain Christ, and be found in him, not because I have my own righteousness derived from the law, but because I have the righteousness that comes by way of Christ’s faithfulness—a righteousness from God that is in fact based on Christ’s faithfulness. My aim is to know him, to experience the power of his resurrection, to share in his sufferings, and to be like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.Philippians 3:7–11, NET
The Promise of the Resurrection
When Paul wrote of his experience of knowing Christ, he didn’t mince words. He didn’t sugarcoat his past, nor did he put on any sort of pretense. Paul simply said, “Everything I had, everything I was, is nothing because of Christ.”
He went from, by his own account, being a star on the rise among the Pharisees to one of the most hated men among the Jews of his time. Everywhere he went, he faced dramatic opposition, and was even stoned and left for dead (then he got back up and was preaching the next day according to Acts 14:19-20).
But he persevered because knowing Christ as Lord had (and has) value that far surpassed anything else for him. The accolades of the past didn’t matter to him, for he saw that the old Paul was the persecutor of his Lord (Acts 9:4). Now he had become Christianity’s strongest advocate. Everything he did was in pursuit of knowing Christ and making him known. And in making him known, he would experience excruciating suffering—suffering that was bearable only because of one thing:
The promise of the resurrection.
What is Christianity without the resurrection?
Sometimes people wonder if a literal resurrection actually matters. Would we lose anything if Jesus was raised spiritually or just in the hearts of his followers, some ask. Paul answers with a resounding yes! A Christianity without the power of the resurrection is no Christianity at all. If there were no resurrection, there would be no hope. If there were no resurrection, none of us would be able to endure anything. Paul knew the resurrection happened. He spoke with the risen Christ (though he did not, it seems, see him). And it changed everything for him. Imagine, if there were no resurrection,
- What reason would Paul have had to turn his back on his promising career among the Pharisees?
- What reason would he have had to say, “I…consider them filth”, or “rubbish” (ESV)?
- What reason would he have had to say, “For me, to live is Christ and to die is gain?” (Philippians 1:21)
- What reason would he have had to endure beatings, starvation, imprisonment, character assassination and ship wrecks?
He would have had no reason at all. Instead, he would have been pursuing folly. Something utterly meaningless. Something for which he should have been pitied, not commended. And the same is true for us—for me.
What would my life be without it?
Were I not convinced of the resurrection of Christ, I wouldn’t be writing this right now. I probably wouldn’t be any different from the younger me who began reading the Bible only to mock my Christian friend. I would be left with the rubbish of my own self-righteousness and the temporary pleasures of life—and I would be clinging to them as though they were my most prized possessions.
Without the resurrection, I would have nothing, though I would think I had it all. But because of the resurrection, I have truly gained everything. And that is good news, isn’t it?