Jesus and God’s MDG – an Easter MessageApr 05
God addressed the spiritual poverty of humankind through the Incarnation of the Son. Jesus is God’s clear articulation of his Millennia Development Goal (MDG) for his people. It was on the Sunday morning following the crucifixion that God powerfully illustrated his MDG through the Resurrection of the crucified Christ.
Our faith in Jesus is the expression of the hope we find in the love and providence of God. As the events of Holy Week culminate in the empty grave on Easter morning, God’s self-sacrificial love defeats the effect of our sin and gives us the hope of reconciliation with God through faith in Jesus Christ. At the center of the Easter message is Jesus – God reconciling himself to us in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:18).
The bodily resurrection is the difference between a tragically noble and inspiring life and the reality of eternal life where there is no death. As N.T. Wright wrote, “Resurrection, we must never cease to remind ourselves, did not mean going to heaven or escaping death or having a glorious and noble postmortem existence but rather coming to bodily life again after bodily death” (Surprised by Hope, p. 45). Therefore, death – physical (bodily) death – is defeated. Death, the ultimate threat by which all evil makes us cower, had its sting removed by the Resurrection. So in that manner the Resurrection is God’s “No” to evil in this world. Sin, death and evil do not have the last word in our existence – life does!
To quote Tina Turner, “What does love have to do with it?” The Resurrection is the sign that the cross was not a surprise to God or a tragic accident that was redeemed by God. As Charles Allen Dinsmore wrote, “There was a cross in the heart of God before there was one planted on a green hill outside Jerusalem” (Atonement in Literature and Life, p. 232). D.M. Baillie stated it this way: “The work of atonement is [God’s] own work, incarnate in the Passion of Jesus Christ because it is ‘eternal in the heavens’ in the very life of God – the love of God bearing the sin of the world” (God Was in Christ, p. 194). In short, God loves us so much that he already planned for our redemption even before we sinned.
St. John quoted Jesus as saying:
14 “Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, 15 that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.
16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:14-16).
Here our faith and the love of God intersect. God’s death-defying love is made available to us through our faith in Jesus who has been “lifted up.” Jesus demonstrates God’s MDG for his children through the Resurrection. God’s plan has always been to be reconciled to his people so that they might fully enjoy his presence forever. Therefore, Easter gives us hope through faith in the life-giving and eternal love of God.
He is risen, he is risen!
Tell it out with joyful voice:
he has burst his three day’s prison
let the whole wide earth rejoice:
death is conquered, we are free,
Christ has won the victory.
(The Hymnal 1982, # 180).