I went through this awesome stage of life where my body periodically decided breathing was an optional biological function. My lungs would jet off to Hawaii for the weekend, and I’d get to have a nice little party at the local hospital. During one of these lovely episodes (also known as asthma) I found myself hooked up to some truly fantastic O2 in the hospital watching the Major League All-Star game. In the olden days hospitals didn’t exactly have great TV packages, so I felt fortunate to have something as good as the All-Star game to watch. In a pretty solid game the AL came back from a 4-0 deficit, and the game was knotted at 7 after nine innings. In the middle of the 11th inning, with the game still tied, the two managers and league commission held their own summit meeting along the first base-line. They decided that if the inning ended tied the game would simply end, finishing in an unprecedented tie. Despite a near riot from the fans that’s exactly what happened. I was furious, first because there are three major no’s in baseball: no crying, no PEDs, and no ties! Second, there was absolutely nothing else on TV, which seemed like a pretty major problem at the time.
In many ways Jesus’ death on the cross is the run that ties the game between life and death, light and darkness, and good and evil. His death pays the debt for all us sinners, a debt payable only by death. The debt is paid on the cross, but the power of death is not yet defeated. In Jesus’ day resurrection was such an out there idea that even the most zealously religious people believed that not even God could resurrect the dead. One could perhaps earn a tie with death (like Elijah, who simply rode into Heaven), but there was no coming back and defeating death. That’s why Easter is such a big deal. Not only did Jesus die to pay our debt, He came back on the third day. He hit a walk-off grand slam that forever beat back the power of death. Because Jesus both died for our sins and was resurrected death is no longer something that can defeat us, nor is it something we should fear. Here’s how Paul’s puts it in Romans 6:5-8:
For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin—because anyone who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him.
We celebrate Easter because God is so loving as to die on the cross for our sins, AND so powerful as to defeat death and rise again. By his love and power there will be no loss or tie for those who confess and believe, but only a perfect eternity in Heaven.