This Sunday, all five churches here in Lodi who have been going through "The Story" will be on Chapter 27, "The Resurrection."
We know the Easter story. We tell it every year at about this time, and in my religious tribe, at least, we talk about it every week at some level or another. One aspect of the story might slip by us in our rush to get to the dramatic bits — this story answers the two biggest questions every person on Earth has in their heart.
The first question is asked as soon as we are born. The nurses swarm over the newborn and the mother asks "Is he/she all right?" Not only are we concerned about the baby, but the mother is, at some level, asking "Did I do OK?"
We stand in front of the mirror and wonder ... "Do I look OK?" We question ourselves when we pay the bills and see the balance dropping, or when we spot a gray hair, or when our spouse doesn't react to our presence — or our flirting — fast enough. We question ourselves on the playground, when the report cards come out and when we walk into a new school. Are we acceptable? Are we special? Do we matter? Are we worth as much as the others? More? Are we worth much at all?
We read Psalm 139 and see that before we were born, we were dreams in our Father's eye, woven in secret in the depths of the earth, but we still don't feel special because we know our failures, our wrong turns. "Sure," we think, "we started out as dreams of God, but we've failed Him so many times, we can't be acceptable anymore."
There's a show on PBS entitled "Antiques Roadshow." I don't like antiques much, and I know nothing about them, but I enjoy how the show is kind of like a lottery for common people. That old clock you found in the attic or that painting on your grandparents' wall might just be worth something. Well, that's the point. It could be a ton of money, or it could be worth nothing at all.
The best part of the show is when the expert tells the owner what the item is worth, not because they know the inherent worth of any particular piece. The piece might just be some ink spread on a bit of cardboard, but the expert knows that people are willing to pay X amount of dollars for that baseball card; the expert knows what people are willing to pay.
That's the point: Items are worth what someone will pay for them. Easter answers the question "Am I OK? Am I special or even acceptable?" by showing us what God the Father is willing to pay for us. If you are worth the death of His only, beloved Son, that should silence all questions about your value. (Here's an idea: The next time you see someone wearing a cross, ask them, "Did you know that's an appraisal sign?" and go from there to tell them "The Story.")
The second question is: "How do I survive? How do I get through this thing I am facing?" You might be facing marriage trouble, illness, the loss of a spouse or child, unemployment, a deteriorating community or any of a thousand other perils. It is perfectly legitimate to ask, "How do I make it through this?" Easter also answers this question.
In Romans 8 and First Corinthians 6, we are told that the Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead is now resident inside of us. That same power — the greatest that could ever be imagined — is at our disposal.
C'mon! Which is harder — to make it through an economic downturn or to raise someone from the dead? I think God's made His point.
The two biggest questions of all time are answered by the death and resurrection of Jesus. The Easter story is not about one resurrection but about all of us living a resurrection faith every day. For He says we are worth it all. And He has come to live in us.
Come celebrate Easter and the Resurrection with us this Sunday at Ham Lane Church of Christ, Vinewood Community, Temple Baptist, First Baptist or Emanuel Lutheran — it will do you good.
Chad Eric Donley is the preaching minister for the Ham Lane Church of Christ.