God’s Problem

Easter Sunday

“This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad!”

Psalm 118:24

God has a problem.

That problem is you and I. What do I mean by that? 

Well, God didn’t make man arbitrarily. God made us for a reason. He made us to share in His divine life. At the beginning of our existence, the first pages of Genesis record God breathing His own life into us (cf. Gen 2:7). Those same pages also record God’s warning to us that if we rebel against Him and so separate ourselves from the source of life, then we would die (cf. Gen 2:17). We rebelled. And death entered the world.

This may sound more like a problem for us than for God. But it is God’s problem; first, because God loves us, and second, because God did not make us for death (see Wis 1:13). He made us for life. So if death were to have the final word, it would appear that death — and our sin that caused it — would be more powerful than God. But God is omnipotent. There is nothing that can thwart God’s will, God made us for life, ergo death cannot be our ultimate end. And yet God tells us plainly that if we turn away from Him we will die. And God cannot lie, for God is Truth. And God cannot be mistaken, for God is all knowing. Ergo we must die. 

This is why I say that God has a problem. God cannot spare us from death without contradicting Himself. Nor can He allow death to reign without also contradicting Himself. It seems like a paradox. What is God to do?

As the angel Gabriel told Mary on the day of the Annunciation, “Do not be afraid… with God nothing is impossible” (Lk 1:30, 37). What seems impossible for us is not impossible for God, and God’s solution to the problem of sin and death is something no man could have imagined. 

God’s solution to the problem caused when we separated ourselves from Him was to unite Himself to us by taking on our mortal human nature so that He, the Author of Life, might gain the one thing we possess that God lacks — the ability to die. And He died on our behalf, fulfilling all justice and righteousness, paying in full the price for our sins. The cross upon which He paid that price has been called a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those who believe, Jews and Gentiles alike, it is the power of God (cf. 1 Cor 1:23-4). 

But if that were all Christ came to do, our celebration would end on Good Friday. But we know there is more to the story. That God could and would die on our behalf is a wonder. But as wonderful as that is, God has something even greater in mind than we could imagine (He always does). 

When the Author of Life willingly entered into death, a marvelous transformation took place. Death is incompatible with Life and so it was forced to become something else. It became the opposite of what it was, the very gateway into eternal life. 

This is why Jesus says impossible sounding things like, “He who would save his life must lose it” (Mt 16:25), and “take up your cross and follow me” (Mt 16:24). Jesus is “the way, the truth and the life” (Jn 14:6), but that way of life leads through the cross. These statements, so familiar to us, make no sense apart from one thing — the testimony of the empty tomb.

“On the first day of the week, Mary of Magdala came to the tomb early in the morning, while it was still dark, and saw the stone removed from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved” (Jn 20:1-2a). They ran to the tomb, and they “saw and believed” (Jn 20:8). 

Christ our Lord has risen; not back to His old life like Lazarus or the widow of Nain’s son, but to a new and eternal life. Death is no longer an end, but a new beginning. “Behold,” Jesus says, “I make all things new” (Rev 21:5). All who die in Christ die with the sure hope of that same eternal life. 

God has transformed His problem into our salvation. The bad news is that we will all one day die. None of us can escape that reality. The good news — the gospel we proclaim — is that if we choose to die in Christ — and we make that choice by living in Christ — then our tombs will one day be empty like His. 

This is our faith. This is our hope. This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad. Alleluia!