Easter’s a few weeks behind us now. The discounted candy—jelly beans, colorful marshmallow birds, and leftover dark chocolate—is long gone from temporary shelves. Time to move on to the next thing.
What happens when Easter is over? After we respond to “He is risen!” with “He’s risen, indeed!” or sing honestly, passionately about Jesus’ victory? How do we remember a week, a month, half a year later that He’s still alive and with us? In my head, I know the significance of a risen Lord. Yet, once Easter comes and goes, I don’t always consistently, consciously live in a resurrected reality.
This reality is so central that the apostle Paul says if Christ has not been raised, our lives and faith are in vain—hopeless.
But what good is that when life is extremely ordinary? Or when we’re trying to clutch the scattered pieces that keep slipping, falling, cracking? Does it have any meaning when we’re going through motions, on mountains, or in valleys? What about when we feel the painful, visceral experience of humanity—or when we don’t know what to feel?
I read Jesus’ words and observe His life. Within the Pages, like a subtle current, is a hope very much alive. Resurrection, I’m beginning to think, is not only some future day of glory but a present reality, “on earth as in heaven” manifesting more holy and wholly.
Searching for some insight in the Gospels, I noticed a pattern in the post-resurrection narratives of Mary, the disciples, Thomas, and others. Jesus was alive—fact—but a personal encounter with the risen Christ was a life's catalyst, motivating Jesus’ followers to go live the good news. I wonder… How often do I know in my head, even believe, but don’t encounter or know Him? Jesus’ “Follow me” is a radical invitation to intimate relationship, character and identity transformation, and new life.
Even when Jesus ascended, He commissioned His followers, promising He would be with them and send the Spirit. Ascended does not mean absent. The same Spirit that raised Christ now lives in us; this resurrection is reality for our here-and-now. We’re living in the promised days.
Usually, I want to be a resurrection person, but, to be honest, sometimes I’m scared: by definition, resurrection cannot happen without death. Thank God for a perfect example who died that we might live for what’s right.
I don’t have a five-step plan to living this kind of life. (If it’s out there, let me know:) Following the steps of Jesus—as He went to death and back to bring redemption, reconciliation, resurrection—may be hard. Uncomfortable. Even counter-(American Christian)cultural. It’s a journey but not a blind one. The Good News is always making things new, birthing new reality, doing something new, bearing new fruit.
Lately, I’ve been praying Paul’s words: I once thought these things were valuable, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done. Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For His sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as loss, so that I could gain Christ and become one with, become found in Him... I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power of His resurrection. I want to suffer with Him, sharing in His death, so that one way or another I will experience the resurrection from the dead! May that become my reality.
Friends, if we have are buried and raised with Christ—right now—we walk in newness of life. He’s risen, indeed.