By Chuck Griffin
Depending on which gospel you read, the resurrection story is told in slightly different ways. The core facts are the same, however: Jesus was definitely dead, crucified on a cross.
Then he was and is clearly alive, fully recognizable and yet transformed in a way that should still astound us.
We often rely on the gospel of John during Holy Week and Easter, if for no other reason than the precise detail provided there regarding both the crucifixion and the resurrection. Mary Magdalene, a woman who had been healed by Jesus and became his follower, finds the stone rolled away from Jesus’ tomb.
She goes for help, returning with Peter and a disciple described as “the one whom Jesus loved.” The men see the carefully discarded burial linens and leave the tomb. Mary stays and sees the risen Jesus, mistaking him at first for a gardener before speaking with him. When she runs back to the disciples, she announces, “I have seen the Lord.”
Just as angels indicated at Jesus’ birth that the world was changing because God had come to live among humanity, Mary was saying that nothing will ever be the same now that Jesus has defeated death.
The Greek verb we translate as “announce” was used very specifically in Jesus’ day, indicating that previously unknown news was being delivered. Mary Magdalene was the first to deliver the Good News about Jesus Christ and his world-transforming resurrection.
And indeed, nothing is the same. Before Jesus, death was a frightening uncertainty, at best a descent into a shadowy existence. After Jesus, death is meaningless for those who follow Christ.
We don’t seek death—we certainly don’t relish what might accompany the dying process—but faithful Christians intuitively know they have nothing to fear. How can we fear what Christ has crushed? How can we be anxious about facing Father God when we know the resurrected Son will stand by us and say, “I have made this one holy!”
And more than just the afterlife is changed. This life now is changed.
In making us holy through the cleansing action of the cross, God can dwell in us. He gives us his Spirit to sustain us until all creation is set right in the general resurrection, the complete remaking of heaven and earth. (If you don’t know that part of the story, take hope—it is where history is headed.)
The joy of eternity with God begins now, not in our passing. Easter is a reminder that the resurrection happened in this world, impacting living people, including us today.
The resurrection is a story worth hearing again and again. Nothing can match it; certainly nothing can embellish the story that makes eternity possible. I pray you have the opportunity to celebrate this great story in some way today.
Lord, thank you for salvation and eternal life! May the hope of Easter fill our hearts each day. Amen.