Looking ahead at why we celebrate Easter

Published 11:56 pm Tuesday, March 15, 2016

By Michael Brooks

Brooks is a pastor of the Siluria Baptist Church and adjunct instructor at Jefferson State Community College.

It was April 19, 1992. First Baptist Selma’s choir, under the direction of Gordon Welch, was to sing “Symphony of Praise,” and a large crowd gathered on Easter evening to enjoy the music.

The choir had begun only a minute or so when there was interruption.

Laurie Manderson was first to react with a shriek when her father, Billy Driggers, clutched his chest and fainted. He was having a heart attack. Fortunately Dr. Park Chittom was also in the choir. He and Selma dentist “Blue” Howell administered CPR while waiting on the EMT crew. Billy spent time at Vaughan Hospital and then at Carraway Hospital in Birmingham.

The cantata was rescheduled for May 24. It was a great night when Billy walked out with them to a standing ovation. Billy Driggers came back from the dead!

Next week we’ll celebrate even a greater miracle when Jesus rose from his grave in Jerusalem. His resurrection ensures new life for those who follow him.

Because of Easter, we have life with the living Christ.

The Christian life isn’t a solo, but a duet. We live it in partnership with Christ. As the apostle Paul wrote, “I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live, yet not I, but Christ lives in me” (Galatians 2:20).

There is a sense in which the old life of disobedience dies when we come to faith in Christ, and the son of God takes up residence in our lives. Some insist, “I can’t live the Christian life.” This may be true, but Christ can! Others say, “I’m afraid I can’t hold out.” This may be true, but Christ will strengthen you. We don’t live the Christian life alone. Because of Easter, we have a life committed to mission.

The risen Christ gave the blueprint in Acts 1:8. The disciples were to take the message first to the Jewish nation, for “salvation is of the Jews” (John 4:22). But then they were to take the gospel to the hated Samaritans.

Jesus’ blueprint speaks to our prejudices for he insisted redemption is for everyone: black and white, rich and poor, prisoner and free.

Modern believers accompany Christ into a world of need and pour out our lives in service.

Because of Easter, we have life eternal. Columbus sailed into the unknown in 1492, but returned with a message: “There’s nothing to fear. A new world awaits!”

Jesus crossed into the realm of death and returned with a similar message. Death for the believer is a portal to a new world.

Bill Gaither’s song is correct, “Because he lives, I can face tomorrow / Because he lives, all fear is gone.”