You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means

I love Easter! I even love Easter for the stuff that we “serious” Christians should not love it for:

  • small children in new Easter clothes
  • that fake plastic grass you put in the bottom of Easter baskets
  • Cadbury eggs… Oh, thank you heaven above for those eggs
  • the knowledge that the week after Easter they’ll start putting the Christmas displays up at Walmart

I just love this time of year, even for those nonreligious, way over-commercialized things. But, the reason I love Easter the most is because of what this time of year means for people of faith.

We celebrate the resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus the Christ. We were lost in our sin and desperately needed a Savior. The God of the universe became flesh for us, lived a perfect life, died a sacrificial death, all for the purpose of paying the price for us, a debt that He did not owe. Then after three days in the tomb, He rose from the dead putting an exclamation point where the devil wanted to put a question mark.

He’s alive!

The resurrection of Jesus Christ proves that He is who He said He was; that He had the authority to do what He came to do. Easter is awesome.
Every year during this holiday I feel the need to clarify some Christian vocabulary. I think we have trouble with the word resurrection. To quote one of my favorite movies, “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”

Let me illustrate. In Colossians 1:18 it says

“He is also the head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that he himself will come to have first place in everything.”

I’ve been asked in the past how the Bible can make the claim that Jesus is the “firstborn from the dead”? It’s a great question when you start listing all the people who came back from the dead in the Bible: the widows son from the story of Elijah, Lazarus called out of a tomb by name, and Eutychus the young man who fell asleep during one of the Apostle Paul’s sermons fell out of a window and died. Paul raised him from the dead and then finished the sermon… that poor guy couldn’t catch a break.

Those are just a handful of examples of miraculous life-giving moments seen in the Bible. So, how can Scripture claim that Jesus was the firstborn from the dead when examples of coming from death to life existed before and after the very first Easter?

It’s actually a vocabulary issue. There is a huge difference between resurrection and resuscitation.

If you’ve ever seen one of those guys on TV who ate a few too many tacos during his years and needed a few thousand volts to kickstart him… CLEAR!… then you understand what resuscitation is. Brought back from the brink of death, or even death itself.

There is one problem with resuscitation that they haven’t fixed though… It’s not permanent.

Resuscitation does restore life, but only gives back  what you had before death stole it. A little more time, or a few more tacos, and death will return.

For example, has anyone run into that widow’s son lately? Attended this year’s Lazarus Conference 2011: how to beat death? Read the book by Eutychus called “Surviving Life in the Pews: a listener’s guide to paying attention that may save your life”?

No, you haven’t been able to connect with any of those guys because even though they were fully resuscitated in a miraculous way… eventually, they died again. Resuscitation is not permanent. It simply restored them to their original, broken, flawed and ultimately terminal selves.

Resurrection is far different! It’s not a return to what we used to be, it’s a huge leap into what God said we’re supposed to be. Resurrection is a transformation of the body, not a transportation back to it. It is an example of God redeeming what is broken, and giving what He desires His own to have.

Best of all, resurrection is permanent.

No one had ever been resurrected before Jesus, and no one has since. There will come a day when those who have trusted in Jesus Christ will hear His call:

1 Thessalonians 4:13 But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep,  that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. 14For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. 15For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. 18Therefore encourage one another with these words.

There have been numerous resuscitation’s, but our hope is in the resurrection!

You know, there is a form of resurrection we can have here and now. A permanent solution to our brokenness.

So many of us have settled for a daytime drama answer to life’s biggest questions:

  • Dr. Phil may have some insight that does some good, on a good day.
  • Cosmopolitan may someday come up with the quiz that truly will identify the perfect mate.
  • And, you might even find some confidence, peace and hope from your most recent Google search.

There is some wisdom and some guidance in some peculiar places, I’m not denying any of that.

But, what I am saying is that those answers never last. They are a resuscitation that only takes us back to what we had before… the thing  we’ve had from the beginning, our brokenness.

We need a resurrection! Lives surrendered to the One who does not have the answers, but the One who is the Answer. Our marriages, our careers, our parenting, our heart and mind, and our very future are more important than a temporary resuscitation. We need Jesus Christ to be the Lord over our lives, and let His word and His will perform a resurrection that prepares us for the eternity that awaits.

This Easter, don’t settle for a cheap imitation. Look beyond the plastic eggs, the pretty Easter dresses and the mounds of candy… look to the firstborn among the dead… look to Jesus.

He is our only hope of resurrection, both now and in eternity.


2 Replies to “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means”

  1. Thanks for the reminder to keep the focus on what really matters in spite of the bombardment of nonsense. I also have to acknowledge the “Princess Bride” reference in the title… one of the best movies ever! Further evidence of your coolness 🙂 Haven’t seen the lineup yet, but hope to see you at Kamp this year.

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