“Our Lord has written the promise of resurrection, not in books alone, but in every leaf in springtime.” ― Martin Luther
These words were penned by the church reformer, Martin Luther, about 500 years ago. Since then, spring has come every year, without fail. Maybe some springs were warmer, some were cooler, and some were rainier, but spring always came.
And with it came the birds, flowers, and animals. New life! This is what led Luther to declare that ‘the promise of the resurrection’ was not confined to ‘books alone, but in every leaf in springtime’. Spring is a new beginning.
Winter comes first, however. It is the time where everything goes dormant, hibernates, or just dies. We don’t really look forward to winter (I’m sure those who were living in Boston this year won’t look forward to winter next year!). If we could do things our way, autumn would change straight to spring, and we would skip winter altogether.
So it is with the Lenten season. We would rather avoid this somber period in the church calendar altogether. Why can’t we skip it and go from Christmas to Easter?
The answer goes all the way back to a leafy garden. In this garden, God instructed Adam and Eve, “…you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.” We know that they did not follow this rule, but ate the fruit of the tree in defiance.
Thus, Paul tells us in Romans 6:23, ‘For the wages of sin is death …’ Death is the consequence of sin. Its finality is absolute. Its sentence is sobering.
But, that is not the end of the story. In fact, it is just the beginning. The latter half of Romans 6:23 tells us, “…but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 5:17 states, ‘For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ!’
God didn’t wait until spring came to bring life. The Son of God came during the season when sin and death reigned. He came and lived during this winter season and was crucified. But his cross put an end to winter forever. His cross is the beginning of an eternal spring!
Upon a tree barren of leaves, the crucified one was put to death to face eternal death for us. He paid for our sin and the consequence of our sin; death. At Jesus’ resurrection, that mustard seed sprouted. Eventually, it became the largest tree in the garden, and it’s still growing.
As the Easter season begins, we can point to this new life that is not merely declared in books, but also by God’s creation. This creation replays the story over and over again, declaring, “Christ is risen, He is risen indeed!”