Hymnology: The greatest day in history

At Easter time, one of the things I often wonder is why we (and, I should say, I’m very much preaching to myself here) spend so much of the year more or less ignoring the resurrection. We talk about the cross an awful lot of the time, but often we don’t talk so much about the resurrection. I was struck by this over the last few weeks: I’m so used to thinking of Paul resolving to know nothing except Jesus Christ and him crucified (1 Corinthians 2:2) that it’s a bit of a surprise when he talks in a very up-front way about the resurrection.

For example, in Paul’s sermon at the Areopagus in Athens, he says:

‘Therefore since we are God’s offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone – an image made by human design and skill. In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent. For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to everyone by raising him from the dead.’

I was trying to think how many evangelistic talks I’ve heard which actually talk about the resurrection as proof that God will judge the world with justice through Jesus. Not many, if truth be told. I think we so often focus on the cross that we gloss over the resurrection – but, as Paul says, “if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins” (1 Corinthians 15:17). The resurrection is a vindication of Christ, it is a proof that Christ was who he says he was. The resurrection is the lynchpin of the Christian faith. And it is the proof that he is alive and one day all of us are going to meet him as judge.

“Won’t you please get to the song?”

Sorry! But I just wanted to introduce why I really like this song. I’ve been thinking about it a bit over the past few days, and what Tim Hughes does in the song is combine our sins being washed away with a song focussing on Jesus’ resurrection. In other words, I think it draws together Good Friday and Easter Sunday pretty well.

The lyrics themselves are fairly straightforward, I don’t want to analyse them – but I think I have been thinking this Easter about the profound nature of the resurrection, how it changes everything: if Jesus really did rise from the dead, everything about how we live our lives changes. This life is not all there is – there is a resurrection, hardship today is bearable because of that. Our sins really have been forgiven, our faith is not futile. And the resurrection is a challenge: all of us will one day stand before the risen Lord Jesus as judge. He is the only one who is risen from the dead, no-one else has ever defeated death.

This is what I’ve been thinking about as we’ve sung the lines, “I’ll never be the same / forever I am changed” – the resurrection means that our lives are forever changed.

Alright, this has been less about the song than about a particular thought I’ve had over Easter, but still. I haven’t done one for a while so you’ve got to take what you can get…

This is part of my ‘hymnology’ blog series.

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