Jesus' Death and Resurrection
At the heart of the Christian faith is the good news that God has saved us through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
The Christian faith teaches that God’s plan is to enable each of us to know his love, freely respond to him with love, and in turn love one another. However in many different ways humans have turned away from God. People abuse the freedom God has given them to love him and one another, instead living self-centred lives. This is seen throughout history in all the ways humans fall short, fail each other and cause suffering, continuing today. Christians uses the word ‘sin’ to describe all the different individual misdeeds and wider social injustices through which people reject God and his way of love, justice and peace.
But the good news of the Christian faith is that God has sent his own beloved Son to save us. God the Son became human in Jesus of Nazareth, who through his own death accomplished God’s plan to reunite us.
During his life Jesus was seen as a threat by some people with influence and power, and they had him violently killed by being nailed up on a wooden cross. However his death was not a defeat. Jesus willingly offered his life as a sacrifice, to free all humanity from sin and death. Though Jesus was himself innocent of sin, all sin - rejection of God - came to a point in his death and he faced and bore it on the cross. It wasn’t that Jesus was punished for humanity’s sin, but instead he took it on willingly, out of selfless love for us and our salvation. Through this selfless love Jesus made peace with every one of us, forgiving every instance by which we reject God and his way of love.
Jesus’ death then is our salvation, because it has liberated everyone from sin and enabled us to have a new relation with God. Through Jesus’ death, God’s love and forgiveness breaks through all human failure. So because of the cross we can approach God without fear, knowing that we will never be excluded from God’s love, no matter what we have or haven't done. Jesus’ sacrifice is for every single person, and God’s loving plan is open to us all.
However, this only fully makes sense in the light of what followed after Jesus’ death. The gospels testify that Jesus was resurrected from death to physical and immortal life. This resurrection confirms Jesus’ victory over sin and death, and the start of the world's transformation. It also shows us that no experience is too dark for God’s love to penetrate and transform. Above all it means Jesus is alive today and forever. So with our liberation from sin won by his death, Jesus invites us to new life with him on earth, and eternal life after death.
Christians experience the power of Jesus’ death and resurrection in their lives.
When Christians suffer they turn to Jesus, who not only shared our suffering on the cross, but continues to do so. This is because as Jesus is eternally alive, his life is bound up in ours, and he suffers every human pain. The presence of Jesus’ love and his solidarity with our suffering can be a source of great comfort and strength. Likewise when Christians reject God’s way of love and cause hurt, they turn to Jesus the eternal victim, seeking his forgiveness. Christians know that because God has already acted in Jesus’ death, his arms are already open to us. When we turn to Jesus in repentance, we can experience God's love and forgiveness from the cross.
As completely unexpectedly Jesus returned from death, so too new life in Jesus is full of what we could never expect. We share in Jesus' victory over sin and death, opening up hope, healing and transformation. When we accept God’s love he puts to death our self-centred lives, and leads us to instead discover the freedom to live a life that is open, attentive and generous. By knowing that we are freely accepted by God, we can find true meaning in living out the love and forgiveness we have received.
So with boldness Christians look to the transformation of our lives, society and world. Through Jesus’ death and resurrection everyone is freed to know God’s love, respond to him with love, and live life fully, loving one another.