The Question of Easter

Our normal Easter routines have been shattered. Instead of spending time with friends and family, maybe camping or travelling, we’re at home trying to contain a pandemic.

I’m wondering if having that extra time will allow us time to consider some of the bigger life questions.

This is a post that I repeat in the lead up to Easter most years. While most of us will still be talking about rabbits and chocolate I think it’s worth taking a little time to look at the true story of Easter. The closest most of us get to the original Easter story is eating hot cross buns.

The bigger story is about the barbaric killing of a man who many millions of people throughout history believe defeated death and walked out of his tomb some days later. That’s extraordinary. Could such a story really be true or has the legend of this man, Jesus, grown over time?

Whether you’re a believer, apathetic or completely opposed to the person of Jesus, you’ve got to admit that his very existence has shaped much of the world. Whether you think that’s a good or bad thing, it’s simply fact.

With that in mind we really should decide for ourselves who Jesus is or was.

There’s an interesting exchange in the Bible about this very thing.

Once when Jesus was praying in private and his disciples were with him, he asked them, “Who do the crowds say I am?”

They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, that one of the prophets of long ago has come back to life.”

“But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” Peter answered, “The Christ of God.”

I suppose that if we reset the scene in modern times it might look more like:

Once when Jesus was praying in private and his disciples were with him, he asked them, “Who do the crowds say I am?”

They replied, “Some say you’re a good man; others say a teacher; others say a religious leader; others say a misunderstood man; others say a fictional character; others say an irrelevant historical figure; others say a prophet; others say a bigot; and still others, that you’re a guy who gives us a couple of days off each Easter and at the end of December.”

Then comes the question that should be directed to each one of us.

“But what about you? Who do you say I am?”

Jesus was very wise in the way he asked his question. (After all, he is Jesus.) He says to his disciples, “Firstly let’s clear up what everyone else is saying about me.” It can be very easy for us to parrot someone else’s idea of who Jesus was or is. There are so many options that we can easily pick one that sounds reasonable to us.

But Jesus doesn’t give the disciples that option. After clearing up the range of things that others were saying, he focuses in on the individuals in front of him and says, “But What about you? Who do you say I am?”

I believe he’s doing the same today.

We need to be aware that there are many ideas of who Jesus is but in the end we need to answer that second question for ourselves.

Jesus looks at us all saying “But What about you? Who do you say I am?” Not who do your parents say I am; not who do your workmates say I am; not who does Richard Dawkins say I am; not who do your philosophy books say I am; not who does your pastor say I am; not who does your church say I am, but “Who do you say I am?”

Whether we say we believe the Bible’s idea of who Jesus is or not, we can’t afford to just grab someone else’s ideas on this one. We need to be open enough to have our views challenged. We need to look at how we came to hold the views we do and decide if that’s a good enough reason to think that way.

All the arguments about what people believe about Christians and their views are secondary and irrelevant until we decide what Jesus is about.

If we truly look at the evidence for ourselves and decide that Jesus was just a man we’ve got nothing to lose but if he was who the Bible claims and we don’t acknowledge it, our life could be at stake.

I’m siding with Peter on this one when he answered, “Who do you say I am?” with “The Christ of God.” Exactly what that means for me and the way I live my life is something that I will continue to grapple with for the rest of my life.

Who do you say Jesus is?



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The Heroes and Villains of Easter

Easter 2010 has arrived and for many it’s a great opportunity to kick back and relax with family and friends. For others it’s a time to get a big DIY project sorted. The smell of fresh paint is sure to fill a lot of houses in the coming days.

For many of us Easter still connects us to the gospel story as we remember the first Easter around two thousand years ago. On Good Friday we remember and reflect on the trials and crucifixion of Jesus. Sunday brings celebration as we focus on the resurrection and the incredible meaning that comes from it.

My regular Wednesday morning guest on 98.5 Sonshine FM is Ross Clifford who is the Principal of Morling College in New South Wales and Vice President elect of the Baptist World Alliance. Each week we chat about a range of issues relating to spirituality and belief.

This week we looked at Easter’s supporting cast. Who are the unsung heroes and villains of the Easter story?

There’s a cousin of Jesus, Herod, Barabus, Pilate, Joseph of Arimathea and even a guy who goes running naked through the Garden of Gethsemane. Each of these ‘players’ are included in the story for a reason. We asked about who we might identify with from those featured in the original Easter story.

Listen to what Ross had to say by clicking the play button on the audio player at the bottom of this post.

[audio:http://mpegmedia.sonshinefm.ws/feeds/SPI310310_1432.mp3]

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The Cross

TheCross.jpgWhat is the cross really all about?

It’s a symbol used to mark grave sites. It’s hung from gold chains around people’s necks. People sing songs about the power of the cross. Crosses decorate churches around the world but what is the true significance of the cross?

My regular Wednesday morning guest on 98.5 Sonshine FM is Ross Clifford who is the Principal of Morling College in New South Wales and current President of the Baptist Union of Australia. Each week we chat about a range of issues relating to spirituality and belief.

Today we discussed the cross and looked at what the Christian Scriptures have to say about the old rugged cross.

We also touched on the current debate of whether Jesus’ death on the cross was about taking our punishment. Many people, including some Christians, have been discussing whether it is possible to love the kind of God that would sacrifice his son in such a violent manner.

Listen to the discussion by clicking play on the audio player at the bottom of this post.

Once you’ve heard what Ross had to say, please leave a comment or two with your views.



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