I am known in my family as the one who doesn’t enjoy games, particularly the ones that involve boards, cards, or video controllers. Few of them have ever really held my interest. My mind typically wanders and I end up not getting the concept. Ultimately I don’t do well (translated: I lose). It’s rarely fun, and so I usually make excuses for not playing (like, needing to read a book, or something).
Another reason for not liking them is that I’ve had the rules of games changed on me, right in the middle of playing. I remember my brother doing this more than once when we were kids. He was the gamer who would teach me something new, and then right as I thought I had it figured out and was close to winning, he would inform me of a rule he had failed to mention before. It usually benefited him, of course. For a guy who struggled to comprehend how to play in the first place, this was beyond frustrating, even infuriating. I remember throwing my cards at him at least once, yelling not-very-nice things possibly a couple times, and maybe even knocking the whole board onto the floor. Who, after all, has the right to change the rules?!
The Great Reset
Well, God does. As the Creator of all existence and the Great Engineer of everything that is, He intimately knows this “game” we call life. And He did change the rules on that first Easter morning. Satan, the enemy of all humanity, had been playing his version for a long time, counting on the permanence of death and decay always being the end. There was nothing for humans beyond that dark veil. When a person died, all sense of purpose, delight, and relationship was over. And the forces of evil always held that ultimate card, ready to flaunt it in our faces anytime humans tried to create their own hope.
But then Jesus came along. He stretched the rules of human limitations His entire earthly life by healing blind eyes, cleansing diseased skin, calling breath back into lungs that had stopped functioning, and giving hope that there was even more to come. This Son of Man was getting out of control, so the enemy of humanity finally played his trump card. He killed the One who was showing humans a new way to live. And according to the old rule book, that should have been the end.
Of course, Resurrection Day is the celebration of the fact that Jesus did not stay dead. But His coming back to life went beyond the simple resuscitation of cold flesh. When Jesus stepped out of the tomb that Sunday morning long ago, something about His body (and the future of all creation) had fundamentally shifted. He wasn’t merely granted a few more miraculous years to walk this earth until He eventually succumbed to old age or a terminal disease. His body had been transformed into a type of flesh that was indestructible or, as the Apostle Paul calls it, “imperishable” (1 Corinthians 15:51-55, ESV).
Jesus linked earthly living with heavenly living in a way never before thought possible. And what made it even more astounding was the declaration that His followers, and all the created order, now could follow Him and get a similar makeover with death and decay taking no part. The trump card had lost it’s ultimate playing power. The rules had been completely rewritten because Someone had finally beaten death. And that is what we, as Jesus followers, have been given—New Rules for life!
No Other Celebration Like It
Why is this so significant? What makes Easter worth celebrating? Being such a transformational event, it’s sometimes difficult to wrap our minds around it. For all of human history, hopelessness and despair had given the enemy an unbeatable hand. Death was ALWAYS the ironclad, predictable, and unchangeable end . . . until Jesus came along. As the only one to ever walk the earth fully God and yet fully human, he opened the door for people to start thinking and living differently—with an eternal perspective. How we humans imagine the future determines much about how we live our lives in the present. And we have now been given a new way of envisioning what is yet to come.
Many Jews would have understood that left to themselves death was darkness, eternal separation from all that was good. Yet we also find an awareness in the Old Testament scriptures that even after everything appears to be over, dead as dry bones, there is still some kind of future life for God’s people (read Ezekiel 37:1-14). Unexpectedly, however, Someone showed up to provide a flesh-and-blood preview, demonstrating what had only been hinted at in the holy writings. Jesus declared a new era had dawned, and He was leading the way. His resurrection announced a promise to all who would believe that the way things are now is not the way they will remain. And that promise is still being proclaimed today for all who will dare take it seriously. There is a glorious future beyond the grave!
Rejecting the Old Rules
Yet our enemy still works to convince us to live by his tiresome regulations. Similar to my response when my brother adjusted the game rules, Satan is certainly angry about the change and probably quite scared as well. However, his trump card, though drained of its previous power, can still have a debilitating effect on those who continue to submit to his rules. Despair, oppression, unbelief, and tiny thinking are the natural results of viewing death as the final end. As long as we live and make decisions as if accomplishments or experiences in this present age is all there is or all that really matters, we continue to submit to the old rule book. Prestige, pleasure, material wealth, and power over other people will vanish with our last breath, leaving us bankrupt for whatever comes after.
The Resurrection Rules, however, inform us that along with the imperishable bodies and new earth we have been promised, indestructible qualities such as faith, hope, and love, with a dash of humility and holiness will be what we treasure forever after the grave. So the question we must ask ourselves is “What are we investing in today?”
The events surrounding Easter make up the great reset button that changed the “game” of life for all humanity. I want to learn how to better embrace the new way of thinking and living we have been offered. Because of what Jesus has done, you and I can now hold the winning hand no matter what our game looks like at the moment.
He is risen!