“That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death.”
I LOVE the Easter story. It’s a story that many a fiery preacher lean on to drive the end of their sermons and call men and women to repentance. It’s a story that stirs the heart and offers everlasting hope. It’s a story that, despite the skeptics and critics, has not withered or faltered or failed over 2,000 years.
Most of all, it’s the gospel. The truth. And it has power.
Jesus, the son of God, came to earth to save sinful man. He sacrificed his life on the cross. Was buried in a tomb. Defeated death, hell and the grave. Rose early one Sunday morning with all power in his hand. The bottom line: Jesus rose. He got up. And because he got up, we too can get up from every situation or circumstance that we might face.
That’s the power of the Easter story. It gives believers the hope to prevail.
I remember sharing that story with a woman years ago who had come to me wanting me to write about how her father had molested her. Certainly, she needed help dealing with that tragic, heart-wrenching situation. And we talked about that. But she also needed emotional and spiritual uplifting to help deal with her own personal hurt. When she heard the gospel story, she accepted Christ as her Lord and savior and was empowered to seek her peace.
I remember sharing that story with a youth at the Department of Juvenile Justice who had spent much of his life in group homes across the state. He would later get on his knees in his own quiet time and accept Christ. His behavior changed, as would his outlook on life.
I remember sharing that story with two of my nephews on two separate occasions and watching as tears streamed down their faces — and mine — as they embraced Christ.
I remember sharing that story with both of my sons, who, though young chronologically, were compelled to respond to the spiritual call to accept Jesus as savior.
I remember when I heard and responded to that story myself, recognizing my good wasn’t God’s good and my best fell short of his glory. I realized that a lot of what I thought was right wasn’t right at all and that I didn’t always treat others or myself the best. I couldn’t help but realize that my job, my college degree, my earthly gain were of little worth without true meaning and purpose in life.
That’s the Easter story. It’s a story that’s to be shared over and over and over again. And its power has brought change in many people’s lives over and over again.
This is no fable or tall tale. It’s the gospel of Jesus Christ. It’s a story that stirs the hearts of men and commands a response. Its power is that it makes people take account of themselves and make a decision — to change or not to change.
I’ve seen the lives of drug addicts, alcoholics and gang members transformed. I’ve seen people of all ages, creeds and colors changed. I’ve seen the rich bow and the poor uplifted. All by this gospel story.
And this day, Easter, known as Resurrection Sunday by some, commemorates the work of Christ through the shedding of his blood.
In Philippians 3, the Apostle Paul acknowledges how worthless his own righteousness is when it comes face-to-face with that of Christ. Paul expressed a longing to know Christ and experience the salvation made possible only by Jesus’ sacrifice. Paul embraces the power of Christ’s resurrection, which both encourages believers and guarantees eternal life.
Thus, every Easter, we Christians celebrate Christ’s resurrection.
This Sunday tends to be the best-attended day of the year in the life of the church, giving pastors and preachers everywhere another opportunity to share that glorious story and patiently await the hearers’ response. Some respond immediately, some next week and some still later in life. Believers carry the story with them, sharing as they go, no matter the day or season.
Once shared, the hearer is left to make a decision, as outlined by the lyrics of a simple but powerful hymn:
What will you do with Jesus?
Neutral you cannot be;
Someday your heart will be asking,
What will He do with me?
I love the Easter story. Have a happy one.
Mr. Bolton is author of “God Is Grace: Lessons to a Father from a Son.” Reach him at (803) 771-8631 or firstname.lastname@example.org.