HE IS RISEN!
Today’s reading takes us back to the first Easter morning.
I wonder what it was like for the women as they wandered to the tomb. They were probably quite confused. The events of the previous week had been troubling to them. The death of their friend Jesus – devastating. They lived in a much less individualistic culture than ours. Their hopes were for the prosperity of their people, God’s people, as much as for their own personal satisfaction in life. They had hope that Jesus was the Messiah (or the Christ/King) that Israel had been longing for. They were hoping that he was the one who would finally restore the people of God, undo the curses (particularly the curse of death) and bring hope by restoring life to the world. They knew the prophet Isaiah (Isaiah 40-66, especially Isaiah 65:17-25) had spoken of this new age. They hoped Jesus was the one. But now, he too had been defeated by that great enemy of death.
On this morning, they are going to pay respect, to treat the body, to continue their mourning.
The empty tomb first brought about in them curiosity. The appearing of angels brought fear. The words of the angels brought hope. Hope that Jesus is not to be found among the dead. Hope that “he has risen”.
As the woman recounted the story to the male disciples, they considered the story to be nonsense. How ridiculous – a resurrection? Peter, however was intrigued and began to wonder at what was happening.
For many of us, Resurrection is so much part of our worldview that we can take it for granted. Imagine how hard it was for these first disciples, in the very moment itself, full of grief at the events of Friday, to understand what was taking place. But Peter wondered.
Surely he entertained that this could be true.
Surely he saw that if Jesus was resurrected, death was defeated.
Surely his wonderings engaged the idea of a new creation, a new age.
Is this the defeat of death for which they had hoped?
Often we can get consumed in our individualism. It’s right to see this story as part of your own story – that you too will be experience a resurrection in which the pains and troubles of this world will be gone. But resurrection, Easter, is about much more than that.
This momentous morning reminds us that the new age has broken into the world. Reflecting on this morning many years later, Paul writes in 1 Cor 15:55
Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?
The larger narrative we are invited into in that a new age dawned with the resurrection. Life came. Life won. Life lives.
Those of us in Christ now live in the new age. Colossians 3:1 reminds us:
Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.
The Kingdom of God has broken in. The victorious, risen and ascended King, Jesus, now reigns. We who partake in the resurrection are to be practicing kingdom living. We are to live in the life giving hope of the resurrection- not just that I will be resurrected, but that new life is available now, and we, the resurrection people are its agent. Our lives of justice, peace, love and reconciliation are not simply good things to do, they are the only thing to do if we truly believe that he has risen, that new life and new creation have begun!