The News from the Future is Good
I like to joke with my Australian friends about their living in the future. They are a day ahead of those of us who live in the western hemisphere, you know. So when I talk to them, I like to ask them if we have jet packs yet. And they like to assure me that I'm still alive "tomorrow," which is nice.
For the third consecutive year, my wife and I have traveled down under for an Easter conference in Tasmania, where I've had the privilege of preaching alongside some great local pastors and leaders on a variety of texts and topics, but mostly, of course, on the resurrection. We enjoy celebrating our risen Lord with our brothers and sisters in this great country, and we enjoy watching Easter dawn and dusk over the Bass Strait from Ulverstone, the cold wind in our faces on the beach. It's just lovely and, for me, a taste of glory to come.
Most of our readers will be reading this post the Monday after Easter. It is Tuesday in Australia, though, and we will be in Sydney today visiting with some pastor friends and their families here. So, I bring you greetings from the day you've yet to see! We don't have jet packs yet, but I assure you that you're still alive this Tuesday.
How can I say that? Well, I have word from the future. We all do, thanks to Easter.
That most astounding moment in human history marks the pinnacle achievement of the 33-year miracle of the eternal God inhabiting the flesh of man, the divine intervention in and interruption of space and time. In a sense, the very incarnation itself is a word from the future — a message from the other and higher dimension that the ageless God has been, currently is, and always will be with us and for us.
"The kingdom of God is at hand!" was the banner carried in the first wave of Christ's ministry. The heavens are invading. And while the darkness of Calvary would seem to have silenced the message, we discover in three long days — during which time seemed to stand still — that you cannot stop the deathproof King. Not even the grave can hold him down. He has, as Jonathan Edwards says, made sick the death which swallowed him, just as the whale did Jonah. And just as the whale did Jonah, the grave must spit him out. He has poisoned it with his holiness.
At the resurrection, the great reversal of all that is broken begins. That which was undone begins to be re-done. To use Tolkien's word, this is the great eucatastrophe of history. "Everthing sad is coming untrue!," to use Tolkien's other words. When the stone was rolled away, more light streamed out of that tomb than streamed in.
Yesterday, the crucified Jesus came back to life with glad tidings about our tomorrow. He came back to reaffirm his promise that anyone who believes in him will themselves never die (Jn. 11:26). He has purchased eternal life and brings it back to us as his gift to us, to be received by faith.
Why do I like Australia at Easter time? Because this American gets, for a brief moment around Resurrection Day, to live a day ahead of myself. It reminds me of the promise that even if I do die today, yet will I live tomorrow (Jn. 11:25). In fact, even if die, I will be, as D.L. Moody said of his own future death, "more alive than I've ever been!"
Jesus himself went "down under," and he brings back a word not just from the grave but from the halls of heaven, from the realm of eternality. He owns the future. He is the future. He has a word Sunday about Monday. He had a word yesterday about today. Because he knows what's coming. He is. And soon.
To still further borrow a phrase (this time from George Eldon Ladd), the resurrection unleashes the presence of the future. The gospel of an Australian Easter is a heart-thrilling reminder that we worship the Lord who was and is and is to come.
My wife and I will be headed back in a couple of days, at which point I can say to my friends at home, "See you yesterday." But for now, I bring you a good word from your tomorrow — if you are in Christ, you are alive forever. Happy Easter!
“Fear not, I am the first and the last, and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades." — Revelation 1:17b-18