I think we are missing something about Easter.
Not the joy. The celebration of our Savior’s victory over death is a euphony of sounds and actions both on earth and in heaven. All the redeemed sing with the four living creatures in Revelation 5:9-10,
Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth.
Not the hope. As Paul pointed out in 1 Corinthians 15:20-22,
But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.
The hope of Jesus’ resurrection for the faithful is rehearsed in songs like “Because He Lives,” “He Lives,” “Christ Arose,” and “Christ the Lord Is Risen Today.”
And not the power. If death itself must bow its cursed knee before Jesus then in Him we are “more than conquerors through him who loved us” (Romans 8:37). The faithful are in awe of:
[T]he immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come (Ephesians 1:19-21).
What we seem to have lost is the fear of Easter. Of the four gospel accounts of the resurrection of Christ, Mark captures this the most. To see what I mean, read Mark 15:16-16:8 concerning the death and resurrection of Jesus. You see these words scattered throughout: Golgotha, save yourself, darkness, forsaken, torn, alarmed, fled, trembling and astonishment, and afraid.
Mark creates a specific tone and atmosphere throughout the entirety of this passage. The soldiers beat and mock Jesus. They crucify Him and callously gamble for His clothes. As He suffers and dies for their sins He is derided and insulted by the scribes, chief priests, and the rest of the mob. Then darkness covers the land. Jesus cries out about being forsaken. He dies and the veil of the temple is torn from the top to the bottom.
A centurion who had probably witnessed and participated in scores, if not hundreds, of crucifixions was overwhelmed by what he saw and experienced at the foot of Jesus’ cross. The crucifixion of Jesus was like nothing he had witnessed causing him to say about a man he never knew: “Truly this man was the Son of God!” (Mark 15:39).
He is finally laid to rest. When the women come to the tomb to anoint the body with spices, they see the stone rolled away and upon entering the tomb they are “alarmed” by the absence of Jesus and the presence of an angel. When the angel instructs them to inform the disciples of Christ’s resurrection,
[T]hey went out and fled from the tomb, for trembling and astonishment had seized them, and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid (Mark 16:8).
In the physical realm Mark points out darkness, a torn curtain, a stone rolled away. Concerning feelings and emotions, he writes of hatred, forsakenness, amazement, alarm, and terror.
Mark’s tone concerning the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus is constant and unchangeable. Ominous. Troubling. Worrisome. It’s all aimed at implying one thing: accountability. More than a martyr. More than a prophet. More than an angel. He is Lord. He is God. We will answer to Him. Everyone. On His terms. Not ours.
He is eternal as is His Word. He has the final say on what constitutes faithful obedience. He has the final say on sexuality. He has the final say on gender. He has the final say on marriage. He has the final say on what is and is not love. He has the final say on whose heart is filled with hate and whose is not. He has the final say on eschatology. He determines authenticity. Not you. Not me. He will separate the sheep from the goats. And He will not misjudge or misinterpret one single word or event in anyone’s life. He is not an arbiter of the truth. He is the ultimate manifestation of truth. And the words, “Well, to me…” fall uselessly and embarrassingly at His feet.
I am the resurrection and the life (John 11:25).
He doesn’t utilize, manipulate, bestow, or anticipate resurrection life. He is the substance and reality of it. When John saw Him in all His resurrection glory he said he “fell at his feet as though dead” (Revelation 1:17).
There is little reverence or fear in what is being passed off as “Christian” these days. The name of Jesus is abhorred by government officials, ridiculed by counterfeit religions, and manipulated by church leadership. It is used to justify hedonism, prevent discernment, and promote immorality. Words like “Judge not” are taken out of context, twisted, and repackaged as justification for sinful choices and lifestyles.
Ask yourself this question: “Why were the first witnesses of the resurrection of Jesus Christ trembling, astonished, and afraid?”
He is risen.
Not only does that mean He has defeated Satan, sin, and death, but it also means that every single angelic and human being is answerable to Him. That means it really doesn’t matter what my interpretation of the Bible and Christianity is. All that matters is what His view is. Remember what He said He would tell those who cringed before Him in judgment after their “Well, to me…” argument concerning what they considered obedience to be.
I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness (Matthew 7:23).
You already know about the joy, hope, and power of the resurrection. I pray we haven’t overlooked the implications of His resurrection. I pray there is still room in our hearts for holy terror.