Guest post by Dr. Maxie Dunnam, Minister-at-Large
The Gospel is the proclamation of an event — the event of Jesus Christ. In the Christian view of reality, Jesus is final. Not only is He the revelation of God, He is the revelation of persons. In this event, God has come to us, has been present in our midst and has made known His love. Prodigal persons, a long way from the Father’s house, some having forgotten where the house is, some even having forgotten that there is a house, prodigal persons have been brought home again.
But not only is the Gospel the proclamation of an event, it is also the invitation to an encounter — an encounter and an ongoing relationship with the living Lord. The resurrection of Jesus does not simply mean that Jesus is alive. It means that Jesus is alive here, now, in this place, and that’s Good News.
It’s Easter; let’s claim the message Jesus and the New Testament writers make clear:
“I have come that you might have life and that you may have it more abundantly. Because I live, you will live also. This is life eternal, to know Thee who alone art truly God, and Jesus Christ whom Thou hast sent.” God gave us eternal life. This life is with His Son. “He who has the Son has life; he who has not the Son has not life. If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed, behold the new has come.”
The high tide of the flood of words like those comes with an affirmation from the book of Revelation: “And I saw a new Heaven and a new Earth, for the first Heaven and the first Earth had passed away. And I heard a great voice from the throne saying, ‘Behold the dwelling of God is with men. The former things have passed away, behold I am making all things new.’” (Revelation 21:1, 3-5)
It’s Easter. Let’s claim the Gospel of resurrection. Resurrection life is beyond the power of death. None of us knows what lies beyond physical death and the tomorrows of eternity; we can only surmise. But we can be sure of this: that resurrection will have a lot to do with, in fact will be dependent upon, whatever resurrection we are experiencing today and tomorrow. Death and resurrection are everyday parts of life. Death has many faces. There are things within us that must die: resentment and guilt, the self-condemnation, the constant need to prove, the crippling fear. There are things within us that must die if we are going to live, things that will bury us if we don’t bury them.
When we give ourselves to the Lordship of the living Christ, then we begin to experience life as a series of deaths and resurrections, and we can shout with that writer in the book of Revelation: “I saw a new Heaven and a new Earth, for the first Heaven and the first Earth had passed away, and I heard a voice from the throne saying, ‘Behold, I make all things new.’”
The core dimension of the Easter Gospel is there will be an ultimate resurrection. A personal experience is a witness. I entered the hospital room of a member of our church. I had visited with him before, and we had shared intimately. He was connected to oxygen tubes and was breathing deeply. I could tell he had very little energy. He couldn’t talk, but he could respond.
“How are you?” I asked. He shook his head negatively. “But you’re going to make it,” I said, half as a question and half as an affirmation. But, again, he shook his head negatively. He felt he was not going to make it.
I took his hand in mine and said again, this time with conviction: “But whatever happens, you are going to make it.”
He got the point, and a smile came on his face. He squeezed my hand with the one of his I was holding, and then he lifted his other hand and pointed toward heaven as his smile grew broader. There was a knowing exchange between us that transcended words. We held hands in silence, and we looked into each other’s eyes as our souls became one with each other and one with the Lord. He knew he was dying, but he knew that he was going to make it.
That’s the promise and the hope of every Christian. We’re going to make it! We’re going to make it through this demonic Coronavirus and all else that comes. As Christians, we’re going to make it, and share with Christ in that “new heaven and new earth.”
Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Amen!