May 4, 2020
At the time of writing, there are approximately 45,000 people who have tested positive for the coronavirus (Covid-19). And the virus shows no signs of slowing down.
It is thought that the virus originated in a Chinese market in a city called Wuhan, Eastern China.
Coronaviruses are known to jump from animals to humans and it’s believed that the first people to be infected were market workers. In fact, experts believe that we can be even more specific. Covid-19 is similar to the coronaviruses that are found in snakes, bats and pangolins (a kind of anteater). And the hunt for the animal source is still on.
It’s extraordinary that this virus, spreading as it is, across the globe at an alarming rate, can be traced back to a single location and to a particular moment in time when a few stallholders got too close to some infected animals.
What further complicates the spread of viruses such as Covid-19 is the presence of ‘super-spreaders.’ On average, each person infected with the new virus will pass it on to two or three other people. But some people, because of their lifestyle, location or job will pass it on to significantly more people.
As you can see, tackling a virus such as Covid-19 is extremely tricky and we can be very thankful for those who are working around the clock to monitor the outbreak and to help those who’ve been infected.
But what does all of this have to do with the Easter story? Well, in some ways absolutely nothing! But there are, indeed, some parallels which I’d like us to reflect on:
Consider how the message of Easter has spread.
According to the Pew Research Centre survey, Christians were the largest religious group in the world in 2015, making up nearly a third (31%) of Earth’s 7.3 billion people. These days, most of us prefer to take our statistics with a ‘pinch of salt’, but even the most cynical sceptic would not deny that in the last 2000 years the message of Jesus has exploded across the globe.
Secondly, consider the source.
The events of Easter didn’t take place in a fairy tale religious world. They took place in real history. And therefore, like Covid-19, the Easter story can be traced back to a single moment in time, to an exact location and, even, to a group of ‘super-spreaders.’
But what is this message and how is it spread?
On the very first Good Friday, Jesus Christ was crucified outside Jerusalem by a toxic alliance of authorities. For his closest followers, this event was devastating. Their rabbi, friend and Lord had been publicly shamed and put to death. But according to the Bible, this was not a defeat. It was a cosmic victory.
“Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God.”
(1 Peter 3. 18)
Jesus’ death on Good Friday was not an accident. It was designed to deal with our sins and to bring us to God.
But there’s more.
“On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. 2 They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, 3 but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus.”
(Luke 24. 1-3)
Jesus had disappeared from the tomb. His sacrifice was complete. Death could not hold him. He had defeated sin. He had risen from the dead.
In the days following these events, the risen Jesus was seen by over 500 eyewitnesses. People heard him, spoke to him, ate with him and touched him. His closest followers were totally transformed from despairing disciples to ‘good-news-super-spreaders’ who travelled far and wide sharing the wonderful message of Jesus.
So, as you can see, just like Covid-19 the events of Easter can be located in real history, to an exact moment in time, in a known-part of the world and to a group of ‘super spreaders’ who were transformed by a risen saviour.
These are the parallels, but there is one enormous difference! Far from being a deadly infection, the good news of the Easter events can actually save us from the infection of sin which lurks in our hearts. It is a not a disease which brings death, destruction and sorrow. It is a message which brings wholeness, life, freedom, joy and forgiveness to all who receive it.
Why not investigate this ‘super-spreader’ message for yourself this Easter?