A wondrous paradox

The good news begins on Easter Sunday – or better, the good news is revealed to the disciples on Easter Sunday. The good news was always ‘there’ in that it is the good news of the goodness and love of God acting to put all things beautifully right in the most astonishing and unpredictable way imaginable. The entire biblical narrative up to this point is all part of the good news of God’s redemptive and healing purposes for a broken creation and broken lives.

But before the resurrection that astonishing good news remained hidden, obscure, partially understood and glimpsed only a few. A crucified and raised Messiah was definitely not part of Jewish expectation.

Without resurrection there is of course no gospel. The resurrection of Jesus changes everything. It reveals what was previously hidden. It vindicates the Lord of Glory. It makes clear the astonishing secret mystery of the redemptive plan of the Triune God. It utterly changes the disciples’ interpretation of the cross from a place of finality, death and hopelessness, to a place of new beginnings, life and future hope.

1 Cor 2:6-8 “We do, however, speak a message of wisdom among the mature, but not the wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. No, we speak of God’s secret wisdom, a wisdom that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began. None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory”.

The resurrection evidences the victory of God won at the cross over all powers opposed to his good purposes for his creation. Death, sin, Satan, the powers – all are dealt a crushing blow. And with that victory, Jesus is exalted to his rightful place by the power of God …

“which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.” (Eph 1:2-23)

So this Easter Sunday is a day of celebration and thanksgiving, of worship and adoration of the triune God. A God who does the unexpected. A God who delights in wondrous paradoxes. A paradox of the God-man, Jesus Christ, born in obscurity; a paradox of a humble rejected servant-king; a paradox of victory won in apparent defeat …. and a continuing paradox that Christians are called to live in the tension between the certainty of that utter victory, the everyday reality of sin, failure and injustice, and the hope of the age to come.

So, what do you make of the wondrous paradox of this Easter Sunday?

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Cross words

The first ‘Good Friday’ was a day of death, despair and desolation.

Easter Saturday shows us life with the cross as the final word – a life of grief, hopelessness and guilt.

And this is why Easter speaks right into the angst and struggle of our lives. Jesus said he came not for the ‘healthy’ but for the ‘sick’. Not for the proudly self-sufficient but for those who recognise their need. And Easter shows us how God himself enters that guilt, hopelessness and despair in order to embrace it and overcome it.

Few saw the connection more clearly between the cross and its power to face head on the brokenness of humanity than Martin Luther. Here’s a quote for today from a chapter by Mark Thompson on ‘Luther on Despair’ in the book The Consolations of Theology

Martin Luther was a man who knew despair from the inside and knew it in a remarkably intense way. He did not try to explain it away or dress it up or pretend it wasn’t real. Yet he realised that true theology, a proper understanding of God and his purposes, provides the only genuine and effective counter to despair. The living God is not the impersonal executor of cosmic justice. Rather, the intensity of his involvement with us in the midst of our selfishness and preversity is seen in the gift of his Son.

I love those last two lines.

What are your thoughts on this Good Friday?