I have been hesitating about writing an Easter blog. Strange for a Christian I know. But a lingering sadness has engulfed me because of all the written words about how the cross was not about redemption; the sacrifice of the Incarnate one for our sins. And so many of the writers are Presbyterians. First there is Carol Howard Merritt, who suggested such a sacrifice “puts into question the nature and character of God.” And there is Rita Nakashima Brock and her continuing diatribe about the cross and the need for redemption.
The Presbyterian News decided to get in on it suggesting that Reformed Christians hold that the resurrection is more important than the cross. Bethany Furkin wrote that “Our focus is not the cross or the suffering of Jesus but his resurrection.” And of course the one who loves to mock Christ, Christians and all things that belong to the Lord mocked everything with great glee.
I found myself only wanting to stay by the cross, but that is probably not a problem. The bodily resurrection of Jesus means nothing without the cross. And the cross means nothing without the resurrection. Without the resurrection “our faith is worthless” and we are “still in our sins,” Paul writes. But he also writes that “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses according to the riches of his grace which he lavished on us. (Eph 1:7-8)” It isn’t either/or—it is a lavish gift.
When the apostle John saw a mysterious book full of the history of God’s work in the midst of an evil world and his holy people he cried because no one could open it. But an elder comforted him with the news that one had prevailed. “Stop weeping; behold, the Lion that is from the tribe of Judah, the root of David, has overcome so as to open the book and its seven seals. (Rev. 5: 5)” And how and what had Jesus overcome?
The song that the elders and the four amazing creatures sang:
“Worthy are you to take the book and to break its seals; for you were slain, and purchased for God with your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation.”
“You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to our God; and they will reign upon the earth.”
This is redemption and resurrection wrapped around each other.