It’s Easter. Yellow bunnies, eggs, roast lamb and time off work. Great stuff. But what about that other thing? You know, God dying and all that?
In hugely secular Denmark, Easter is still the one time of year when Christianity does seem to gather some general interest, if only for the traditions. There are still people who may call themselves ‘spiritual’ or claim to believe in ‘Christian values’, whatever they are; but how many modern-day Northern Europeans believe literally in Jesus’ resurrection from the dead on Sunday morning?
Does that really matter, you may ask? Can we not share the Christian message of love and peace without necessarily having to subscribe to a belief in a supernatural phenomenon that cannot be explained by rationally thinking people?
But that’s the whole point. It’s not supposed to be something we can explain. Even in the accounts from two thousand years ago, there was widespread disbelief. The closest followers of this man had given up hope. The first witnesses of the risen Christ were those with the lowest credibility at the time: women. The movement that Jesus had arguably started had died with him. What followed – the Christian church – was built solely on the belief that Jesus had in fact conquered death. Incredible, yes, but reality nonetheless.
Paul says: “If the dead aren’t raised, then Christ hasn’t been raised either. If Christ hasn’t been raised, then your faith is worthless.” (1 Corinthians 15:16-17)
If Jesus didn’t rise from the dead, then there is no hope that we will be able to do so ourselves as humans. Without that hope, Christianity is moot. Without the hope of resurrection, the church is a bunch of traditions built on a lie, and not worth our time. There can be no church, no faith, without the resurrection.
If, however, we choose to grasp in faith that which we cannot explain rationally, then Easter morning carries a promise of hope that is without comparison. With all our advances and scientific revolutions, we are still no closer to conquering death. And nobody seriously believes that it is within our means to do so.
What happened on that morning two thousand years ago is still as unique, crazy and unbelievable today as it was then. I have chosen to believe, against the odds, in the hope that it is really true.