April Magazine Foreword

Why did Jesus die?

You find this as a heading in any course on Christian basics. A more interesting and exciting question, however, is “Why did Jesus rise again?”

Death comes to us all. Many people have sacrificed their lives for others or have been willing to die for a cause. Innocent people die every day, many of them violently, some as a result of other people’s wickedness. Looked at this way, there is nothing unique about the death of Jesus on Good Friday. What happened on Easter Day, however, is another matter.

The events of Easter Day tell us something vital about who God is and how he operates in the world. As we go through the Bible we are presented with God who creates life where there was none before (Genesis), who turns misfortune into advantage (Joseph), who provides a way forward when there seemed to be a dead end (Exodus). There are stories of elderly couples and barren women who have children (Sarai, Elizabeth) as well as lyrical passages about the desert blossoming like a rose and exiles returning home (Isaiah).

In the Gospels, Jesus heals lepers, blind men and unclean women. They are all freed from the restrictions placed on them by their condition and by society. He provides food for the hungry and a catch for fishermen. He welcomes the stranger and outcast. These are signs of life and a chance to make a new start.

The Bible consistently shows that when we have come to a dead end, God opens up a way. A tomb carved out of solid rock, with a large stone across the entrance looks like the ultimate dead end. But God raised Jesus from the dead. Once again, new life where there was none before, a new creation.

God’s way of acting – bringing forth new life from the dead – is put to its ultimate test, and it succeeds brilliantly. It is the decisive proof of what God had been doing in all these other incidents recorded in scripture. There are instances in our day too, when horrific events have given rise to a better state of affairs. The Grenfell Tower disaster last year and other similar tragedies often result in safer building techniques and improved fire prevention measures. The awfulness of what has happened is not taken away but it is in some sense redeemed.
Jesus said that God is the God of the living, not the dead. This is also the ground for our faith and confidence, and the reason why Christians are called Easter people, not Good Friday people.

– Peter