Rushing the Resurrection

“Christ is risen!  He is risen indeed!”  But, not so fast.  Before we move on to the next thing on our liturgical to- do list, let’s take in this moment.

Jesus has done more than defeat death but has won the salvation of the world.  He is the only Undefeated Champion, claiming the victory of all victories.  Free of zombies, space invasions and end of the world scenarios, Jesus has entered the world as a plainclothes God and died for it like a criminal.

By all accounts, his death should have gone unnoticed.  His own disciples had gone back to fishing as usual.  And though Jesus shared the message of the resurrection with them, they were not expecting this to end “happily ever after.” He told them that he would be back in three days; still, they did not meet him at the tomb.

Well, at least not the male disciples; the women were there to anoint him properly for burial (Luke 24.1-11).  While they may not have remembered his promise, these women could not forget the duty of preparation.  That remained on their list. 

So, he’s dead but they couldn’t just close the chapter.  They could not simply wash their hands of his life but were committed to the very end.  And because they were there after he was crucified, these women received the message of the resurrection: “He is not here, but has risen” (Luke 24.5, NRSV).  Because it was not over.

His open tomb is our open invitation.  His open tomb is our open door.  His open tomb is God’s arm open wide. 

So, Easter is not a moment to give grave tours or to take pictures beside his empty tomb though we are wearing our Sunday best.  Instead, it is an opportunity to walk in the power of his resurrection for without it, we have no faith at all.  The Apostle Paul reminds us,

“Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say there is no resurrection of the dead?  If there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, then our proclamation has been in vain and your faith has been in vain.  We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified of God that he raised Christ—whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised.  For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised.  If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins.  Then those also who have died in Christ have perished.  If for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied” (First Corinthians 15.12-19, NRSV).

The Apostle Paul is right.  Because we believe in the resurrection, we are not a pitiable but a hopeful people.  The reason for our hope is not something that can be declared in a single worship service or even a single lifetime.  No, it will take all of eternity to declare our praise.  Consequently, rushing the resurrection would go against the nature of the gospel and who we have been recreated in Christ to be. 

No, as resurrection people, we are to live it, breathe it, walk it and share it carefully, deliberately and very slowly.

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