I will die, and on the third day nothing important will happen.
Of course he didn’t say that. I will die, and on the third day I will rise again. That is what he said. And did. That matters.
The same goes for Peter. For Paul. Not the birds. The resurrection is the key.
The weird thing is, to hear a lot of us speak, and to read our theology (you might know them as songs), it’s like the third day isn’t so important. Especially in the evangelical world, our songs are distinctly lacking in explicit resurrection theology. There are many songs about the blood of jesus, the sacrifice of Jesus, the death of Jesus. But the resurrection?
I recognise that often we use these phrases as a kind of shorthand. When we say we are ‘saved by the death/blood/sacrifice of Jesus’, what we mean is by the death and resurrection of Jesus. The trouble is, shorthand rapidly becomes the norm, and then nobody remembers it’s shorthand. Resurrection needs death before it; death does not need resurrection after it.
I challenge you to search out contemporary songs for explicit mention of the resurrection. There are a few notable ones that do, but most? They read like loose sacrifice-themed Old Testament-lite: the death of a lamb, the death of Jesus, it’s all the same. No, because Jewish sacrifices a) weren’t God (obviously), but also 2) they did not rise from the dead, bringing future hope into present day.
This Easter my challenge is to re-train our shorthand to talk of the resurrection of Jesus, not his death. Not to take it as a given, because to anyone new to church it certainly isn’t taken as a given. Anyone can claim their hero has died, and in doing so been a motivating influence; but very few claim the bold, the scandalous, the outrageous and the bonkers claim to resurrection.
The third day is not an afterthought, an added extra, after the serious business of Friday and Saturday. Resurrection Sunday is the centre of our faith. It defines who we are. Let’s keep it that way.
From Ian Paul: Resurrection
See What a Morning (Resurrection Hymn)
More Than Conquerers
The Same Power
And finally, a lesson in theology and poetry from the master: