This is the proclamation of our faith as Easter people. We believe that even though the Empires of the world killed Jesus, God didn’t let that be the final word. Instead, as our Christian faith teaches, Christ…the cosmic Christ of John’s Gospel that has existed from before time as we know it…has been raised never to die again.
Since the enlightenment, this great mystery of God has perplexed many, leading to a host of questions about what happened to the actual body of Jesus. But it is interesting to hear the teachings of those scholars such as John Dominic Crossan and Marcus Borg who write in their highly informative book, The Last Week, that these were not the questions of those who lived in the first century after the crucifixion. They had after all, been waiting for God to bring about the great “clean-up” of the world by the vindication of all those faithful martyrs who had died in service to God over the years. So for first century believers, talk about Jesus being raised would have been seen as the beginning of this process. We can see this documented in the earliest Christian writings we have, that being the letters of Paul, where in 1 Corthintians (15:20) Jesus’ resurrection is called the “first fruits.” In other words if Jesus was raised it must mean the general resurrection of the martyrs has begun.
So those living in the first century would have asked for proof that something had changed. They wouldn’t have been worried so much about whether the tomb of Jesus was empty or not, but rather was God bringing about the Kingdom of God for which they had been waiting. I believe that is still where we need to be focusing our energies as Easter people. Even our liturgies point to this when at both the Easter Vigil and Easter morning, we recommit ourselves to our Baptismal vows, promising that out of our love and commitment to God and our desire to follow the teachings of Jesus, we will “seek and serve Christ in all persons,” loving our neighbor as ourselves. This is what is implied when we say Christ is risen….it means that we, as the church have become Christ’s physical body in the world. Continue reading