The Power of Easter

I grew up in a Christian home and the celebration of Easter has always been right up there with the celebration of Christmas. I remember Easter, and all the accompanying traditions, with great fondness. In our home, Easter was always first and foremost about the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, yet, in spite of that focus, I just did not get it. Even as I understood my need for a savior and God’s provision in Jesus Christ, I still did not truly ‘get’ Easter.

The reality may be that we never fully ‘get’ Easter while we are on this earth. It is probably, at some level, something we get glimpses of as we mature as Christians. As I have grown, though, God has shown me that the power of the resurrection is the power for new life.

I was at home with my parents on Easter 1997. I was separated from my wife at the time and was actively pursuing a homosexual lifestyle. I had given up on God to change me, and had bought into the lie that God’s love for me sanctioned my acceptance of a gay identity and lifestyle. Tension was high that weekend, and on Easter Sunday, 1997, I vowed to finally divorce my wife and to stop contact with my family. On the day after Easter, my dad gave me a book that God would quickly use to show me something about Himself that I never really understood. God did indeed love me, struggles and all. Yet His love was more than sentimental or placating. His love was powerful, and He loved me too much to allow me to live like I was living. He had more for me. This love, this powerful and unsentimental love, overcame me. I argued with God and he did not waver, or give in to my human logic, or allow himself to be swayed by my emotions. He held fast, and he simply responded to my soul with a phrase that compelled me to surrender to Him fully…”I love you.”

The connection with Easter and my spiritual awakening was not by chance. This life changing love that wooed me home was culminated on the cross. I had always thought that somehow God hated me for my secret struggle with homosexuality. Even though I knew in my head that I was forgiven, I could not get over the feeling that I was disgusting to Him. I worked and worked to make up for it, but it was the true message of Easter that finally broke through to me. About three months later, I heard a speaker explaining that Jesus died for the sins of our hands and feet and heart and mind, and as this speaker passionately described the wounds of Jesus, I saw that when Jesus hung on that cross He died for all of me. He did not hate me for my secret struggle, He died for me because of my secret struggle. He willingly subjected Himself to a horrific death for me, because He knew that without His sacrifice, I would perish, and would be without power to overcome my sin. Prior to that point, I’m not sure I had ever truly personalized Jesus death on the cross. As Paul told the Romans in 5:8, God’s love was indeed demonstrated to me as Christ died for me while I was yet a sinner. He paid my debt – and he knew the ugliness inside of me. That love brought me home. That love changed my life.

In the last few years, God has been teaching me another aspect of Easter; the amazing power that is ours through the power of the cross. I think we often miss this aspect. I used to only see Easter and the resurrection from a salvation standpoint. Of course, that is a huge thing to see! But the power of the resurrection is not just for the one time benefit of salvation. The power of the resurrection is ours continuously! It is power for life and for the future. In I Peter 1:3, Peter says that we are born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. Our hope is ALIVE because of the resurrection! When Paul talks about the goal of his life in Philippians 3:10, he says “…that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings.” Paul’s prayer is for an ongoing, experiential knowledge – something living and active and day-to-day. What great encouragement for life that gives!

The power of the resurrection is the power for new life. It is the power that saves us. It is also the power that enables us to do the good works that God has designed us to do! We can do nothing day to day but for the power given us through the resurrection! It is the power for understanding and wisdom – things we are incapable of on our own! And the power that raised Jesus Christ from the dead is the power available to us for change. It is the power that can transform any life – without regard for the magnitude of issues and struggles. It is the power that can heal a marriage, that can cure depression, and that can heal the alcoholic. It is the power that can change the homosexual.

This Easter, join me in praising and thanking God for loving us enough to send His son, and join me in praising and thanking His son for willingly dying for us! And join me rejoicing in the instance of our salvation, and in the ongoing power of the resurrection that enables us to live a life for Him.

Mike Goeke is the Vice President of Operations for Exodus International headquartered in Orlando, Florida. Founded in 1976, Exodus is the largest evangelical organization dealing with homosexual issues in the world. Exodus is comprised of more than 125 professional mental health and church-based member agencies – a growing network of former homosexuals who are dedicated to sharing the transforming power of Jesus Christ to those affected by unwanted homosexuality.