. . . declared that this Jesus, who was crucified, died and buried, came to life again. Three days after his death, the gospel writers tell us, they saw, touched and talked to a “flesh and bones” Jesus. He was not a ghost, nor was it a hallucination. The Jesus they followed was alive and they had seen and touched him.
If Jesus is alive again, everything changes. It transforms his dispirited messianic movement onto a powerful people with a dynamic message. Cowards became leaders, sceptics became believers and many faced persecution and death all because of their belief that Jesus had been resurrected and promised hope after death.
While many Australians today find the idea of resurrection strange, it is good to remember that for the first disciples it was equally inconceivable. Greeks did not believe in resurrection and Jews anticipated a future event of resurrection that was for the entire world not just one person.
“For the first disciples resurrection was inconceivable”
Nevertheless, ever since word was out – Jesus is alive! – the hope of the resurrection has been at the heart of the church’s message. As the late English theologian John Stott wrote, “Christianity is in its very essence a resurrection religion. The concept of resurrection lies at its heart. If you remove it, Christianity is destroyed.”
On Easter Sunday, with billions of fellow Christians around the world, we gathered to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus. We proclaimed that death is not the last word and that life does matter. We celebrated the freedom Jesus Christ has won for us: freedom from death, freedom from fear, freedom from shame. We are full of hope, not the wishful type but the certainty of our own resurrection and a better world. Even bad days and suffering take on new meaning as we look forward to the day when Jesus will return and the evils of our world will be set right.
But celebrating the resurrection is not only for the future. It affects us today. We worship a Saviour who is alive and that changes our day-to-day living too. Each day is lived in the light of the resurrection. Every day is a lived with the reality of God’s love and grace. The resurrection changes everything.
May the hope of this Easter fill you again with joy and celebration as you worship the risen Saviour.
Stephen L Baxter