I just showed a video to my grade four class called The Easter Story. It was a cartoon version, abridged and modified for a young audience. I almost showed them a clip from the Jesus video which is much more realistic, but decided to leave that for next year. They’ll be a whole year older then, more able to understand and handle the truth.
But I wonder. Did I do the right thing? Is it ever a good thing to abridge the gospel, to paint it in colours that aren’t quite so stark, so difficult? The story is a difficult one. Torture is never pretty and we know that Jesus suffered under the Roman torturers. Betrayal is never easy to take and we know Jesus was betrayed even by those closest to Him. But most difficult of all is the struggle to grasp what it all means. Did this man, Jesus, really take on all the sin of the world in those final moments? Was it really a victory for all of us? Maybe we should tone it all down just a notch. He was a good man, after all. We can all agree on that. Isn’t that enough?
God’s word says no. God’s word says he was the Son of God, meant to suffer torture and death for us. God’s word says He did indeed die for the sins of mankind and then rose again to be the first among the resurrected. These are truths that cannot, that must not, be abridged. It is God’s truth after all. No mere mortal will ever destroy it, though they continue to try. The prophet Isaiah proclaimed that when he said – “The grass withers and the flowers fall but the word of our God stands forever” (Isaiah 40:8).
It was the word of God that Jesus succeeded in fulfilling. It was the word that laid out in fine detail the beginnings of mankind, his fall and his subsequent history of struggle and pain. It was the word that detailed, too, the profound plan of redemption and proclaimed the good news of God’s victory.
It is the word that we can proclaim now, this Easter season. Say it to one another, say it to strangers. Shout it from the rooftops – He is risen. He is risen indeed!