Saturday, April 3, 2010

The hope and challenge of the resurrection

The joyous message of Easter is life triumphing over death. Jesus is risen from the dead and God is making all things new in him and through him. But the resurrection is only the beginning of the new creation, as it happens "on the first day of the week" (John 20.1). We can never become so captivated by our Lord's victory that we forget there is work still to be done. As Peter learned, the message of salvation in Jesus Christ is to be proclaimed to all who will hear it, even those once considered outsiders (Acts 10.34ff).

The resurrection has revealed the fullness of God's redemptive plan, so that "in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him." Jesus admonishes Mary, "Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father" (John 20.17). Mary would have liked to hold on to the Jesus she knew before his resurrection; to cherish this moment in his presence forever. But this is no time for nostalgia or sentimentality. Jesus has endured the suffering and tribulation necessary to purchase salvation for Mary and for all of God's people. He has descended to the very depths of hell itself. Now, risen from the dead, he is "ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God."

Through his death and resurrection, Jesus has reconciled the world to himself. Those he once called "friends," he now refers to as "brothers." The broken relationship between the Father and his children has been restored. It is a new day, and Mary must let go of all things associated with the old order. She must set her mind "on things that are above, not on things that are on earth" (Colossians 3.2), and go forth proclaiming the glorious good news, "I have seen the Lord!"

He is risen!

He is risen, indeed!