Today, Christian believers throughout the world, make the confident and bold declaration, “Jesus Christ is Risen from the dead! Alleluia! The Lord is Risen! He is truly Risen!”
It’s an assertion that echoes biblical faith, as the Bible recounts the betrayal, mockery, humiliation, sham trial, unjust condemnation, torture, and brutal death of Jesus of Nazareth. He was a man known for his signs and wonders, mighty preaching, and his shocking claims to have been before Abraham and to be the eternal and divine “I AM” of Israel’s faith.
The Bible continues its sacred narrative and testifies that, three days after his death, this Jesus gloriously rose from the dead and gave indisputable credibility to his claims as Lord and Messiah. And so, the biblical acclamation is made, “The Lord is Risen!”
The Lord’s Resurrection is a brilliant light that breaks forth from the backdrop of his dolorous Passion and Death. Its rays continue to enlighten the human family throughout history.
The Resurrection unmasks evil, exposes injustice, heals broken hearts, vanquishes fear, and ignites a contagious hope that fills human hearts in the midst of adversities, sufferings, natural disasters, and pandemics.
The Resurrection of Jesus Christ is a power beyond human imagination. It bestows a strength that is far beyond the contingencies and consequences of any war, pestilence, tsunami, or any other natural or biological threat to the human family.
The Resurrection is an unparalleled action in human history. But how was it revealed to the first apostles? The Resurrection reveals truth that has no equal. What lesson, then, could the Resurrection have for our world in the throes of this COVID-19 pandemic?
The Bible tells us that after the Lord’s burial, his apostles – who were told about the Resurrection by the Lord Jesus himself, but who couldn’t understand what he was talking about – retreated and placed themselves behind locked doors.
While for different reasons, many believers nonetheless find themselves behind locked doors this Easter Sunday. Fear of disease and charity for one’s neighbor have compelled Christians, and all people of goodwill, to nobly sequester themselves and voluntarily observe a self-quarantine.
On the first Easter Sunday, however, the locked doors of the Upper Room had no bearing on the Lord’s testimony. We are told that the Risen Christ went to his apostles, passing through the locked doors and any presumed barrier, and joyfully announced to them the liberating declaration: “Peace be with you.”
In similar fashion, on this Easter Sunday, as individual believers and Christian families are in their homes, united by livestreamed worship, but away from the physical gatherings of their regular faith communities, the Lord Jesus passes through any distance, and declares to each and every one of his followers: “Peace be with you.”
As the Risen Christ brought peace to his apostles, he also presented his evidence. We are told, “When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side.” Words need deeds, and deeds manifest truth. And so, the Lord Jesus showed them his sacred wounds. He unveiled before them the cause of his death. By doing so, he revealed his power over them. He showed that the sufferings and sorrows of this world have no authority over him or the workings of his grace.
In our world today, COVID-19 appears to be an unassailable enemy that has unrestrained power to provoke fear, anxiety, confusion, and to cause pain and death. And like death itself, COVID-19 seems unstoppable. In this arena, however, the Lord shows us his wounds. He once again reminds us of the authority that comes from above. The Lord summons us to a life of hope and calls us to be instruments of peace.
In such a life, there is no room for fear, distress, or self-pity. We have work to do! It’s time for prayer. It’s time to do the outreach that’s available to us. It’s time for acts of kindness, patience, and compassion. It’s time to get out of our spiritual caves and to live as the children of the Resurrection.
With the presence of the Risen Christ, the mood has changed, the atmosphere has been raised up, and the environment has been transformed. The Lord is Risen! And we, his disciples, must now do the works of the sons and daughters of the Resurrection.
In the Upper Room, the Lord concludes his time with the apostles by telling them, “As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” After giving them this command, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”
Today, this same commission is once again given to every Christian believer. The Lord affectionately breathes on each of us, as he sends the Holy Spirit upon us. And the Spirit comes as a help and strength to complete our mission of hope and peace. Our task is to break from the inertia, accept the work, and to do it as best we can.
Follow Father Jeffrey Kirby on Twitter: @fatherkirby