The Easter event changes everything. We cite a number of characteristics that uniquely define the Christian faith, but the Easter event is the most outrageous, scandalous, astonishing, and distinctive. Luke’s account of the resurrection is quite understated. It almost takes on the sense of a rumor or a fair-fetched tale. There is certainly an air of suspense and surprise. Something like this has never happened before.
Even though Jesus told his disciples that it would happen, this event is met with wonder. This event was beyond the wildest of imaginations. We hear the Apostle Paul’s voice thunder: If Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless, and so is your faith (1 Corinthians 15:14).
This Easter event changes everything. The resurrection of Jesus offers the promise of transformation. Paul says, If anyone is in Christ, the new creation as come: the old is gone, the new is here! (2 Corinthians 5:17). A new creation, new people, new families, changed cultures, this is the glory and power of the Easter event. Because Christ is risen, we are able to live new lives; by God’s power at work within us, we become a new creation. Because of this event, followers of Jesus do merely proclaim and live out a new ethical code. Followers of Jesus really believe and proclaim that God steps into lives and societies and does a new thing.
This Easter event changes everything. Lesslie Newbigin wrote: “the mission of the church is the radioactive fallout of an explosion of joy. Mission is an acted out doxology” (The Gospel in a Pluralist Society, p. 127) Because of this event, the early church mobilized to share the story. They could not keep quiet. They went out into the world proclaiming the most radical of news—Jesus is Lord, Jesus conquered death.
With this message the world was turned upside down. This community of Jesus proclaimed and lived out a political and economic counter-culture: the reign of God present. This political nature of this new community of the risen Jesus is lived out in the practice of baptism. Baptism is the mark of a new humanity formed through identification with Jesus. “In Christ” issues of gender, race, and social status are erased (Galatians 3:28). The economic nature of this new community is seen in the practice of the Lord’s Supper. In the Eucharist, the new community of the risen Jesus remembers the Good Friday-Easter Sunday event, extending a sense of welcome and hospitality to each other, and to others who are marginalized. This sharing of table fellowship evokes a sense of incorporation, inclusion and gathering. (See Bryan Stone, Evangelism After Christendom for more).
Because Christ is risen, the earliest followers of Jesus lived new, compelling and provocative lives. They offered the gift of the gospel, seeking to be a blessing to others in Jesus’ name. They offered hope even in the midst of tragedy and troubles. In this Easter season, may we live with this same sense of expectation and surprise. We proclaim: Christ is risen. He is risen indeed! May this confession and promise capture our hearts with an explosion of joy and worship that catapults us into the urgency and vibrancy of mission.
Have a joy-filled Easter!