The prospect of Easter prompts me to think about what resurrection means.
Resurrection means Jesus lives. Christians know and walk with a risen Lord. We encounter Jesus not only as a figure of history but as a present living reality. Frankly, we’re often startled by his presence, even as were the first Christians. Sometimes we find it hard to believe, much like Thomas. Still, when all is said and done, we find we cannot deny his presence. He is not a passive companion. His presence prods us to change the course of our lives, so that we walk with him along ways of his choice.
Resurrection means God’s way prevails. When Jesus died, most thought his teachings died with him, overpowered and silenced by the might of “the system.” The power of entrenched interests seemed triumphant. We understand. Experience teaches us large systems and even long established patterns of personal thought and behavior usually stifle whatever threatens them. The way of God looks awfully naive and frail. Jesus’ resurrection changes the equation. Because Jesus lives, we dare to follow God’s way in hope.
Resurrection means the life we know is not all there is to life. God may introduce surprises to all unfolding stories. Face it. We often feel bound by history, both corporate and personal. Most of us seldom use the term “fate,” but we act as if our lives are already determined. What is shall be. What we are we shall remain. We live as if God is powerless to intervene in unexpected ways. The resurrection calls us to our senses. God reserves the right to introduce a new, salvific theme into the world’s story (or our individual stories) at any time.
A friend of mine once challenged me to describe the essence of Christianity in a single word. After a little thought, I replied, “Resurrection.” Many years have passed since that day, and still I find it true.
Mike Smith is pastor of First Baptist Church in Murfreesboro, Tenn. He blogs at Thinking Out Loud: A Christian’s Reflections.