One of the biggest words in the English language is the little word, ‘if’! If today is Monday your life is probably a lot different than if today is Sunday. If you turn right on the highway you will end up at a different place than if you turn left. The word ‘if’ has life-changing possibilities. Nowhere is this more real than in the realm of what is true or false. Take our current health care law for example. If what the president and Democrats in Congress are saying is true this law will add billions of dollars to our economy. If what the Republicans are saying is true it will drain billions of dollars from our economy. That is one big if! Since very often the issues around that if are two big or complicated for us to fully understand. Often it becomes a matter not of what we know but of who we trust. We follow the Democrats or Republicans not because we know they are right but because we believe they are right.
Easter is not just a celebration. It is a statement that something happened! It is a statement that something is true today! Easter is the declaration that Jesus of Nazareth--who was executed by crucifixion in Jerusalem in about 33 AD and hurriedly buried nearby—rose from death and is alive today. If this happened the faith of about a billion Christians in this world is true. If it did not happen then the faith of about a billion Christians in this world is false. Now that is one gigantic, colossal if!
Easter is not just a happy day for children of eggs, bunnies and candy. Easter is a day of decisions: true or false. What side of the ‘if’ do you stand on? The answer makes a world of difference.
To say that Easter is true is to believe what the world tells us is unbelievable. It is to accept as true what science tells us cannot be true. It is to put faith into the driver’s seat of our lives. But if the Easter message is true, that faith puts us in the right relationship with God and all creation. If the Easter message is false, we are hopeless Read St. Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, chapter 15, verses 12-19:
Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in Christ we have hopen this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.
Paul makes it clear. It all depends on the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Is it true or is it false? Our faith screams out that it is true and Paul’s next sentence in verse 20 states that forcefully:
But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.
This Easter, as you and I celebrate the central day of history, remember that you are taking a stand on one side of the greatest ‘if’ in history. We are declaring along with the Apostles and the whole church in heaven and on earth that Christ is Risen! Christ is Alive! That makes all the difference in the world!