Coop's Column - Risen Indeed
"On the third day he arose again from the dead." Simple words often capture life's most profound and important truths the best. How better, therefore, for Christians to make their most astonishing declaration about Jesus Christ than by this direct, unadorned, and so forthrightly clear confession?
On the third day he arose again from the dead.”
Simple words often capture life’s most profound and important truths the best. How better, therefore, for Christians to make their most astonishing declaration about Jesus Christ than by this direct, unadorned, and so forthrightly clear confession?
Beyond the simplicity and directness of the claim, however, there lies a deep and awe-evoking profundity. For what is being confessed by these simple words is a truth so beyond human comprehending—beyond even imagining—that both those who affirm it and those who hear are summoned to pay careful attention and to ponder deeply.
What Eugen Rosenstock Huessy once said about “grace,” is also true about Jesus’ resurrection:
“If you place [Easter] where it belongs, at the center of [the Christian] life, as its inspiration,
then life must cease to be arbitrary or accidental, casual or boring.
Jesus is risen! We are risen with him! (cf Colossians 3.1) Given these twin truths, never ought we to see our lives as arbitrary. At the heart of the universe there stands a triumphant Savior, whose heart beats with love for us, his sisters and brothers for whom He died and rose again. How then, meditating such stupendous news, could we ever suppose that our lives are at the beck and call of a heavy-handed, tyrannical despot who does as he pleases with us?
Jesus is risen! We are risen with him! Our triumphant Savior now holds us in his sovereign embrace. How then could we ever suppose that life—our life—is accidental? Nothing—simply nothing—can happen to us inadvertently, by chance, or apart from his control. Master sculptor that he is, he promises to use our life’s circumstances as raw material to fashion us gradually to become like him.
Jesus is risen! We are risen with him! How unthinkable, then, to see our lives as casual. We are not an unstudied afterthought, an incidental fleck of Divine carelessness. Our life is purposeful, focused, full of everlasting significance. Our every deed matters; our every thought and action count—eternally.
Jesus is risen! We are risen with him! How could (our) life then be boring?. Fools we are, then—and sinful too—to let life slide into monotonous tedium, into dreary ho-humness? Aware that the Lord is alive, every day ought to be a rare adventure of life together with him. Daily he invites us to wake up to wonder. Daily he bids us to keep our eyes open to catch him surprising us at almost every turn.
The quotation above began with the simple, two-lettered conditional conjunction “If”: “If you place Easter….” The little word serves to summon us to order our lives well. “Jesus is risen, We are risen with him”—those twin facts are Gospel truths. But our awareness of those truths is not automatic. . Like Jesus’ earliest followers, we, too, often have trouble recognizing and remembering his resurrection presence and power among us and within us. Thus, in the little word “If” we hear the call to embed these truths within our minds and hearts, to center ourselves in them.
Given our tendency to not pay attention to what’s most important, we do well, at the beginning of every day, to repeat the confession to ourselves: “Jesus is risen; I am risen with him.” Doing so, we’ll be preparing our own heart to receive fresh supply of his “resurrection energy. ” By his Spirit our risen Lord will then make good on his promise to deliver his extraordinary power for us to face our life’s ordinary—and sometimes extraordinary—circumstances.
That’s the reason, too, why we Christians gather in community on Sunday morning. Together we raise our voices in acclaim: “The Lord is risen!” We want to do this, of course; for no truth is more glad to us, none more joyful to declare. But we need to do this, too. The very health and welfare of our entire life together directly depend on our reminding ourselves that our risen Lord is among us, and that we live and work together as his “risen-with-the-Lord” people. Affirming together the truth of Jesus’ risenness, we become reminded that we are called to live a new and resurrected life in him.
St. Paul declared to the Christian church at Corinth (and to us too): “But Christ has been raised from the dead.” His announcement issued in a challenge: “Therefore, my brothers and sisters, stand firm.”
Learning to stand happens when Christians congregate to worship. For there—in the sanctuary—they remember, they reaffirm, they celebrate, and they give thanks to God that Jesus is risen.
And that they, too, have been raised to new life with him.
Now let the heavens be joyful,
Let earth her song begin:
Let the round world keep triumph,
And all that is therein;
Invisible and visible,
Their notes let all things blend,
For Christ the Lord is risen
Our Joy that has no end.”
—John of Damascus, 679-749 AD