The Cross & June 21st
June 21st has quickly become the date we all have circled in our calendars. The day has been set for restrictions to end and we are rightly waiting eagerly for it to come. But June 21st feels like a much bigger day than just lockdown being put into the past, doesn’t it?
We’ve all had days we’ve longed for in years gone by: birthdays, Christmases, parties, festivals, News Years. But none of them promised the hope of freedom after months of being locked away from each other. None of them could offer the hope of joy after months of grief. None of them could offer the hope of removing the burden that had been set upon our weary shoulders day after day for month after month. June 21st feels like a new dawn; the light that has come after a long and oppressive darkness.
The Problem with June 21st
But take a step back for just a moment. Look at the big picture again and this hope starts to look more and more suspect. There is the clear issue of this date not being set in stone – if we have learnt anything over the past 12 months it is that the plans we make are fairly flimsy and can be changed in a heartbeat.
But there is the bigger issue that June 21st may be the end of lockdown but it won’t be the end of all that made lockdown so difficult.
Loneliness, isolation, disease, death, fear, anxiety, depression, injustice, law-breaking, all of these were in our world before Covid-19 struck. Many of these may have been exemplified or even perpetuated by the lockdown we’ve all faced, but none of them are new.
Countless people have suffered from debilitating, life-changing illnesses before; this is not the first time people’s freedoms have been restricted and they have been cut off from loved ones; and many have already spent years living with crimpling anxiety over what tomorrow will bring.
On June 22nd, there will still be loneliness, isolation, disease, death, fear, anxiety, depression, injustice, law-breaking, and many other causes of suffering. So, is this the best we can do? Is June 21st the best we can hope for? Don’t get me wrong, I cannot wait to have some kind of normality in my life again. But is there not something better, something more certain and more substantive than this?
The Hope of Easter
The Easter story shows us that there is a better hope. Easter tells us that there was a day long ago when real hope was won as real change was brought about.
You see, at Easter we remember a man who bore the burden of loneliness, grief, pain and injustice but also of sin and death. Jesus, the one they crucified, took the root cause of all our world’s suffering and nailed it to the cross. Our rejection of God that had led to the brokenness of our world was laid upon his shoulders and he dealt with it once for all. He then rose from the grave, defeating death and giving us a living hope we can hold onto. True life-changing, life-giving, hope was won on that day.
What is the hope we can now have because of the cross? If our trust is in Jesus, our hope is not for June 21st but the day He returns. On that day we will have life in a world set free from the chains of sin, eternal joy in the presence of our God and king, and the burden of death removed completely.
The pattern of June 21st may be the same: darkness followed by light, grief followed by joy, storm followed by calm. But the key distinction is that at the cross death was followed by life and the day Jesus returns the same will be true for those in Him.
June 21st will be but a shadow of the true hope we can have. We need to look beyond the shadow, beyond the pattern it lays out, to the source of real hope. There have been many times like June 21st before and there will be many more to come; it is a pattern that has been sketched out throughout history. But none of these can offer real hope other than the weekend when Jesus died on a cross and three days later rose from the grave.
So, you see, there is a better hope. June 21st won’t be the day we all hope it will be. But it points us to a day long ago when living hope was won on a cross, and it points us forward to a day coming when all suffering will cease. This isn’t a day we can circle in our calendars, but it was one we can have a true and living hope for.
Is your trust in the living hope offered at the cross? Or is June 21st all you are hoping for? Take the opportunity this Easter to find out more about what happened all those years ago, and why it offers the greatest hope this world has ever seen.