Easter claims to represent the most profound exhibition of God’s interactive personal involvement among men ever witnessed by human eyes. That’s fascinating and the implications are overwhelming, but let me suggest looking at Easter in a simple way that might offer a fresh degree of personal relevance. Among many other things, Easter is about power — and more than a demonstration of it. It’s about the personal acquisition of power, and there’s a compelling personal quality about that.
In spite of our narcissistic leanings, we humans seem to have an underlying awareness that we are remarkably weak and vulnerable, and we’ve always been intrigued by the concept of obtaining power we lack, or enhancing what we have. Our endless parade of exercises to perform, concoctions to consume, devices to purchase, behaviors to practice, and motivational psychologies to apply, all serve to make it clear that we’ll do almost anything in an effort to extend or enhance our natural capacities. Our quest for power is natural. It begins early and we never really outgrow it. My first notable engagement with such a quest began when I was barely five . .
A Reasonable Request ~
To me, it didn’t seem like all that much to ask. All I wanted was enough instantly available strength to totally pulverize any overgrown bully that might come along, and maybe demolish a building or two, or toss some vehicles around if needed to rescue some innocent victim. Saturday morning cartoon shows offered irrefutable evidence that such power existed, but it was also clear that certain requirements had to be met first and that various limitations were involved. Achieving Superman’s level was obviously out because there was that whole “gotta-be-born-on-Krypton” thing, but, fortunately, other options did seem available for ordinary earthlings like me. Doing things I would otherwise never consider might be involved, but great power comes at great cost.
“Popeye the Sailor,” a character of bygone days that most of you may never have heard of, became my hero to emulate. He was an obvious choice, chiefly because laying hold of his power source (a simple can of spinach) didn’t require rebirth or interplanetary travel. Besides, I had discovered a can of the magic potion in my grandma’s pantry. Eventually, an afternoon arrived when the adversarial adults in my life were occupied with something other than telling me what not to do.
Admittedly, the experiment was disappointing early on. Popeye would just squeeze the can, burst the lid open and swallow the entire contents in one gulp, but I was reduced to using a can opener. Still, I figured getting the stuff down was the important thing and was confident that I wouldn’t be penalized for eating it a bite at a time, especially since this would be my debut as a bully-stomping, muscle-bound hero.
It was humiliating. I choked down that whole can of cold spinach on my Grandma’s back porch, and not a single muscle fiber in my skinny little body seemed to notice. No pulverizing of overgrown bullies ensued and no victims were rescued, but there was one devastating beating that did take place that day. It was the beating inflicted on my hope of acquiring incredible power with minimal effort.
A Changing Perspective ~
My desire for dramatic transformation did survive that day, and the ability to engage bullies and see innocent victims delivered from oppression has grown stronger than ever, but things have changed. Life has sculpted new images of the enemies lurking around us, the threats they pose, and the power needed to overcome them. Voices fill the airwaves these days claiming to offer some kind of overcoming strategy, some kind of “empowerment,” but in spite of all that, there little corresponding impact of all that power in the land. We’re surrounded by men and women are being stripped of integrity and pounded into hopelessness by something they ingested or a behavior they can’t resist or control. Every day, families are torn apart and children are left devastated because of secrets uncovered or desires that grew to eventually subjugate every value they claimed. Too often I stand at the bedside of someone whose body has been ravaged by age and disease to the point where strength is gone and every resource has failed. I want to pulverize into oblivion the bully who’s responsible for all that, and that’s precisely what Easter is about.
The Easter narrative is a chronicle of the greatest power struggle of all time, and its outcome holds the key for finally satisfying that longing in our soul for the infusion of strength beyond our own. Jesus came to this earth to engage the real bully that has plagued us all our lives and whom we have no hope of defeating on our own. Our hope lies in the fact that Calvary’s combatants were not the only ones whose lives and future would be affected by the outcome. The battle that raged on the cross was about us, too, and everyone like us. It was about our weaknesses and fears and the bullies waiting to pounce on us every day. It was about the evil system we live in and the lust it incites in us. It was about the friends who betray us, the enemies that deceive us, the malicious predators who assault us, and the microbes undermining us from within.
Calvary’s Victory and Easter’s Invitation ~
The real bully that oppresses us on every hand and that Jesus confronted on our behalf is sin itself. Jesus went one-on-one with both that bully and the power source supporting it on our behalf. His perfect life stripped sin of its power source, His death robbed it of its sting, and His resurrection ensured our freedom from it forever.
Easter is not just a demonstration of God’s overcoming power, it’s an invitation to receive it. Through simple repentance and faith in what Jesus did for us, God, by His matchless grace, makes it available to every one of us. No wonder the Apostle Paul willingly relinquished his grip on every asset he could claim in order to lay hold of that objective: …that I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection (Philippians 3:10 NKJV). He is risen, the angel declared that glorious Easter morning, and with Paul, we gratefully proclaim again, …thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ (I Corinthians 15:56 NKJV).
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Happy Resurrection may our Lord blessed you so
Happy Easter to you and your family, too, Barbara–and you are one of those blessings that God has poured out on us. May He continue to use you to keep the Light shining in this challenging culture.
I love how you attached sin to bullying here, Ron. And thanks be to God, we no longer chained to our sin, but freed to love God and love others.
Thank you for sending another bright spot our way with your gracious comment, Martha, and we continue to thank God for the thoughtful and encouraging way you push back against an oppositional world. I hope your Easter celebrations were uplifting and inspirational.