I love it when the clocks go forward.
After the long dark nights of winter, the days have already been getting longer for a while. It’s no longer already dark when I leave work, or when I arrive in the morning.
And then with the changing clocks, we take a collective step forward. Boom! An extra hour of sunlight in the evening.
And even though officially Spring has only just begun, it’s clear that summer is coming. We’ve moved from one timezone to another, from GMT to BST, Greenwich Mean Time to British Summer Time.
This year Easter coincided with the changing of the clocks, and there’s something fitting about that.1
In the Bible, the apostle Paul wrote:
[Jesus] is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.2
Jesus is the firstborn from the dead into resurrection life. Jesus had miraculously raised to life other people such as Lazarus, but they were still subject to death and would one day die again. Jesus was the first human being to go through death and escape the other side, being no longer subject to death’s rule.
That he was the firstborn has two key implications. Firstly, that there will be others who follow him in being born to new life. The Christian hope is that the reign of death is broken by Jesus’ victory, and everyone who trusts in Jesus will share in his resurrection life, ourselves being raised to new, eternal life when Jesus returns to the earth.
Secondly, firstborn carries the implication of inheritance rights – the King’s firstborn son inherits the Kingdom. Jesus’ resurrection marks the beginning of a new order over which he is the ruler – the Kingdom of God, where sin is forgiven, the sick are healed, the dead raised, and justice rules.
When God raised Jesus from the dead, he was “putting the clock forward” to this new age. We’ve entered a new time zone, that of the Kingdom of God.
As Tom Wright put it,
Easter was when Hope in person surprised the whole world by coming forward from the future into the present3
The key to this kingdom is reconciliation – humanity, having tried to live apart from God, ignoring and rejecting his rule, needs to be restored to relationship with him. Through Jesus’ blood shed on the Cross, God has chosen to pay the price so we can come back to him.
But while it starts with humanity, with individual faith and personal transformation, it doesn’t end there. The clock hasn’t just gone forward for our personal lives, for our private faith. It doesn’t just mean getting up an hour early for a quiet time, or on a Sunday. When the clock goes forward, all of life shifts to the new pattern – school, work, community, business. So it is with God’s kingdom.
Everything must change to fit the new rhythm of resurrection life. Jesus is reconciling all things to himself – bringing peace to warring countries, justice to unfair economies and societies, wholeness to broken families and communities.
Of course, in the interim we still see much oppression, suffering, injustice and pain. Like the dark storms that still gather in springtime and the tired mornings adjusting to a new rhythm, even for those who have turned the clocks forward and are trying to live in Jesus’ new timezone, the transition is not an easy one – and all around us, peoples and societies are still trying to live by the beat of the old clock.
But as dark and difficult as this world still is, we know that winter is passing. The light of Jesus’ kingdom is growing each day, and one day soon he will bring in the endless summer.
- (In another instance of liturgical happenstance, Good Friday this year coincided with the Feast of Annunciation (25th March), which has its own set of fascinating connotations and implications, though it might be the last time it happens if the timing of Easter is changed to a fixed date, as church leaders are currently discussing) ↩
- Colossians 3, v18-19, New International Version ↩
- Tom Wright, Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church (2007, SPCK), p 40 ↩