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A New Understanding of Easter

A New Understanding of Easter

Easter has always been a time when I have tried to understand.

I know the theology:

  • Sin creating a chasm between a holy God and a fallen humanity
  • Sin leading to death by virtue of being the opposite of God (because God is life)
  • Only a perfect God, who was also fully human, in the position to overcome the chasm
  • Jesus (the God-man) overcoming sin by defeating death – and thereby restoring humanity (those who choose it) back to life and God

Knowing the theology is not the same as “getting it”, though. I mean, even when seeing reenactments of the Easter story, of Christ’s death on the cross, somehow the magnitude of it often escaped me. I would go into Easter knowing that I should feel a tremendous sense of awe and gratitude, but often the most I could muster would be a semi-detached feeling of familiarity – as if re-reading a good, yet well-known family story that you appreciate, but are used to hearing.

This will be the first Easter I get it.

This year, I have some idea of what it feels like to have your son die.

I have a whole new appreciation – a visceral connection – with what Christ did at Easter, now. I mean, all I know is this fallen world. I was born into it, I contribute to it, and my very existence is encapsulated by the sin and death and fallen nature of life on earth. Yet, even so, experiencing death – the death of my son – was excruciating. Horrifying. Heart-wrenching. I start running out of adjectives.

Jesus, in contrast, is perfection. And life. And has known only glory and abundance and fulfillment as part of the community that is the triune God. He had so much more to lose than I did, by coming to earth and dying. And, I imagine, His ability to experience the emotions associated with the loss are exponentially stronger than my own. Yet God sent part of Himself – His son – to take on all that dirtiness and darkness and death that is sin.

My biggest prayer, when we learned of Dominic’s condition, was that he would not suffer. God sent His son for the very purpose of suffering.

And then, dying.

I also realize better, now, why He had to do it. There is just so much pain in this world. So much dark and death. Losing Dominic opened my eyes to it all, to what humanity has brought into creation by choosing the opposite of God. Losing Dominic also opened my eyes, though, to the reality that the good that is in this world only comes from Jesus.

This Easter, I feel the need for redemption. I feel the need for overcoming death. I feel the need for resurrection.

It took experiencing death for me to feel that.

This life is so very temporary. We were created for eternity, for life that never ends. My 7-year-old daughter said it best, when talking through the reality of her brother’s death, and the purpose of life: “It’s kind of like we live in a hotel. And heaven is our real house.”

Yeah, kind of like that.

Without Jesus, the reality is just…death. The inevitable conclusion to the path that we’re all on, whether we like it or not. But in Easter Jesus shows us something extraordinary:

Death is the means to life.

 

  • Romans 5:17 “For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ!”
  • John 12:24-25 “24 Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. 25 Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life.”
  • Matthew 16:24 “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.”
  • Romans 6:4 “We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.”
  • Romans 8:10: “But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life because of righteousness.”
  • 2 Corinthians 12:10 “That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
  • John 11:25 “Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die”

Life out of death. The implications of that are dizzying.

Christ secured our place of life forever in eternity. So no matter what awful things happen to us here on earth, we know that, if we choose Him, they are so very brief compared to the infinity of perfect fulfillment and unfathomable joy that awaits us. That, in and of itself, is enough to keep me going – even amidst the most horrific pain. But it’s more than even that.

Until we get to heaven, He uses every instance of death and loss and sin in this world to bring about a resurrection while we are still here. What looks like death, in Jesus’ hands, is actually a way to help us experience life more abundantly, on earth, if we are willing to grasp it. If we allow Him, He will transform every pain and sorrow and death of our experiences into a resurrection, before we even get to our eternal life. He will open our eyes to see the life He is working in all of the pain that happens in and around us.

Jesus said, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”

This Easter, for the first time, I understand. I can feel what Christ did, on the cross, for all of us. Because I’ve experienced it in my own life.

It took Dominic’s death to resurrect my gratitude for the blessings that are my children. It took Dominic’s death to resurrect my hearing of God’s intimate, whispering voice. It took Dominic’s death to resurrect my ability to see and experience what The Lord is doing around me. It took Dominic’s death to resurrect my awareness of eternity over the distractions and struggles of this life. All of those resurrections have squeezed out a little more of the sin nature within me – the nature of death – and has replaced it with His life.

Abundant life, resurrection – from death. For all of eternity, and for right now.

And it is a life most abundant. So full, in fact, that this grieving mama would take life with the resurrections Christ has performed because of Dominic’s death, over a life without any death at all.

That, I think, is what Easter is supposed to feel like.

2 Responses to “A New Understanding of Easter”

  1. Loresa Heyward says:

    A lovingly whispered, “Amen…Amen.” Thank you for putting words to the feelings.

  2. Amy says:

    Beautiful Rebecca. Just beautiful. A child is always a gift but when a child is able give a Momma this kind of perspective…well, the word “gift” just doesn’t seem sufficient for your sweet boy. So grateful for him, for you and for an incredible God.

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