Death and Resurrection: The True Meaning of Easter

The story of Easter is a profound map of the spiritual journey. Jesus plainly calls us to pick up our cross and follow him to death. The death which Jesus modeled is the death of the false self. It is the crucifixion of the ego. It is the end of what was never real. And out of that death rises what always was – the true self, the eternal self, the self which cannot be destroyed. This is the self which does not have the divisions we place on people – race, gender, social status, religion, etc. It is the self which is in Christ and which is Christ.

In the third chapter of his letter to the Colossians (Colossians 3:1-17), Paul gives us this spiritual interpretation of the Easter story. He describes a Christian as someone who has put to death their old self with its lies and anger and greed. Paul says that since we have been raised with Christ we are now to put on the ways of our new selves, the selves which are free from labels and which are truly Christ who is our life.

Since our false selves have been crucified with Christ our true selves also are resurrected with him. This new self, as Paul calls it, is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its creator. See how Paul says renewed, not actually created from scratch but restored. Even though Paul calls it the new self he is clearly saying that we are shedding what is false to uncover the image of Christ, our creator, which is in all of us.

The ways of the old self, or the false self, are the ways of idolatry. But Paul is very clear here that what he is considering idolatry is greed, lust, and evil desires. The false self which must be crucified is the self which worships false desires. The self which is concerned with the accumulation of wealth, with an unhealthy need for sexual conquest, with rage and self righteous anger, with slander and gossip. These desires come from the ego, the false self, the old self.

In contrast, the true self, the new self which is resurrected with Christ, is one which does not have selfish and unhealthy desires. The true self is clothed with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. It does not worship the idols mentioned above but instead it’s desires are continually transformed into the image of Christ our creator. We, therefore, forgive as Christ has forgiven. We love as Christ has loved. We allow peace to rule in our hearts and we accept death as Christ has accepted death.

And so seek the cross, my dear sisters and brothers. Seek the death of the old self. For until we have truly died we will never truly live. Those who try to save their lives will lose it. If you cling to your false self – to your job title, your culture, your bank account, your resentments, your unhealthy sexual obsessions, your need to gossip about others – then Easter will have no meaning for you.

But, if you lose your life for Christ’s sake you will be remade in the image of your creator and you will be an Easter people.

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16 thoughts on “Death and Resurrection: The True Meaning of Easter

  1. The perfect answer to the question what did Jesus die for if sins are forgiven.
    It always struck me as being inconsistent perhaps even hypocritical that having told us many times that sins are forgiven in “heartfelt” repentance without any recompense; that we needed to suffer penally and even that was insufficient and required God to do it with us and for us as if God were bound by a truly repugnant law opposite his nature. But add to that the notion that physical torture and death could in some way be the antidote for sin becomes an absolutely untenable belief to the mind of Divine love. Much of our human sinfulness has purpose and thus Grace filled allowance for it. “Love is made perfect in weakness”. “She loved a lot because she was forgiven much” So how do we deal with such a horribly cruel vengeance so devoid and lacking in the message of divine Love. A more palatable explanation fitting with “all the laws and prophets are based on love” is found in the Franciscan philosopher and theologian John Duns Scotus; Love not penal atonement and Fr R Rohr’s at “At-one-ment”. But then how do we rationalize the prophet
    Isaiah 53:5
    But he was wounded for our transgressions,
    crushed for our iniquities;
    upon him was the punishment that made us whole,
    and by his bruises we are healed.
    This blog provides the answer.

  2. Well said, and I really needed to read and “hear” this today! It is informing what I feel is happening in my life. Much appreciated.

  3. Thank you. This fits perfectly with what I have been reading from Richard Rohr. I will be following your posts.

  4. Thank you, Justin. This is a wonderful synopsis of what Easter means to me…a celebration of a new beginning. Easter is the day to remember and recommit to our work of living a conscious good-by to our egoic idols and embracing a loving welcome to our True Self. And, it is work! But, every day Spirit lives stronger in us once we make the first step! Have a beautiful and loving Easter day.

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