The Times today runs the first of a two-part series on Easter from the Howick Christian Leaders Network, a network of Christian Leaders representing more than 70 churches working across the Howick ward area.
Sometimes life seems so unfair. Scratch just beneath the surface and many of us struggle with issues of low self-esteem, disappointment and even injustice.
We long for better relationships, more money and improved health, but some of the very things we need are just out of our reach. Sometimes that’s life. Other times people get in our way. They aren’t fair. It’s not right. We get mistreated. This isn’t the way things ought to be. And we’re left wondering what to do. Easter poses a major question for each of us: ‘what kind of world do we live in? What kind of world is this… and what is my place within it?’
For some, Easter marks the onset of winter and signals a time of increased struggle and stress. For others, it’s a time for a holiday, but even this doesn’t always erase the nagging questions – Is this life only about the survival of the fittest? Is my goal simply to become the richest rat in the rat race of New Zealand life?
What’s exciting about the life and death of Jesus Christ is that things are not always as they appear, even in our lives. History tells us Jesus was a real man who lived a real life in the small country of Israel over 2000 years ago. So what?
But there are clues buried in His story that point to opportunities that you and I might never have imagined, and which can make a fundamental difference to the quality of our lives.
Jesus died on the cross so that each of us could enter a loving relationship with God. It can seem odd when you first read or hear it. Why would Jesus do this? Death is rather extreme and usually permanent, but in this way Jesus defines what the ‘good life’ truly is – it’s about giving your life for the good of others. It’s the Anzac spirit.
And yet, Jesus was framed. He was innocent of any crime and yet cruelly executed.
Did you ever imagine that you were alone in your sufferings? Jesus knows what it’s like to be hurt. Jesus knows what it’s like to be misunderstood and mistreated. He knows it’s not your fault. At the very heart of the universe is someone who has experienced great pain and empathises with our struggles. And this can reframe our lives in significant ways.
Jesus rose from the dead – counter to normal expectations. But he showed us that death itself is not the final word. Life is. There is more to this life than meets the eye for the person who will look where the evidence of Easter points.
Easter tells us that we have a God who loves us, who sacrificed Himself for us and who understands us on the inside. This life is not as bleak as we might imagine. There is always hope because of Him.
Jesus said, “I have come that you might have life; life in all its richness” (John 10:10). Why not check out a church near you this Easter and find out the rest of the Easter story?
- Andrew Brown – Senior Minister, Pakuranga Baptist Church