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Easter Sunday Sunday, March 31

John 20:19-23


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President Craig Barnes

Isn't it interesting that the lectionary text on Easter Sunday is about offering forgiveness? That’s not what we expect to be hearing about on the Day of Resurrection. Typically, Easter sermons proclaim that in Christ we are surprised with a new life, offered unforeseen opportunities, or given death defying eternal communion with God.

This is all wonderfully true. But the resurrection was never just a means of helping us get the lives we want; rather, it was always about getting the life of Jesus Christ. To live in Christ means we can now participate in the life of the one who changed the course of the world by forgiving

We’ve long resisted the revolution Easter offers by keeping accounts of the failures of those who did not meet our expectations. But every time we condemn someone else it is only because we are trying to cope with our own failures. We’ve failed ourselves and we have certainly failed God. And we are imprisoned by such guilt.

Managing our guilt by condemning someone else was the life with which we were stuck until Easter came along. But now we can live the life of Jesus Christ who embodied another way.

So after Easter we have to give up the old life of fretting over our victimizations, revenge fantasies, or the old hurts we’ve befriended. We leave all of that in the tomb when we rise to a new life of freedom in Christ – the one who allows us to forgive.

As the late ethicist Lewis Smedes wrote, “To forgive is to set a prisoner free. And then you discover that the prisoner was you.”

President Craig Barnes


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