Coop's Column- Risen With Jesus

Jesus' triumph over the grave has enduring impact. The fact of his having arisen involves our rising with him to new life. His living presence now indwells us. Thus, to remember him today is to know him as fully alive.


Of Jesus' resurrection, Pope Benedict XVI said: "Only if Jesus is risen has anything really new happened that changes the world and the situation of mankind....Whether Jesus merely was or whether he actually is, this depends on the resurrection."

Jesus' triumph over the grave has enduring impact. The fact of his having arisen involves our rising with him to new life. His living presence now indwells us. Thus, to remember him today is to know him as fully alive. 

Gradually Jesus' earliest disciples came to realize that the twin facts of Jesus having arisen and of their rising daily with him in newness of life. These two facts, taken together, placed them under joyful obligation to proclaim this news. Gradually, I say, for initially these lowly followers of Jesus were frightened, perplexed, and unsure about what their ears were hearing about what had happened. (Mark 16.8, Luke 24.37) 

But once they had seen him and had experienced the magnificence of his risen presence and of his incomparable power, then they simply could not resist proclaiming him. Eagerly they stripped off the cloak of timidity behind which they had been hiding and put on boldness. Willingly they sacrificed not less than everything -- their meager resources, their time, their health and safety, even their lives -- to herald the news and to urge hearers to believe. Mark's gospel describes their heroic sacrifices with these simple words: "Then the disciples went out and preached everywhere." (Mark 16.20). 

Our obligation under the resurrection

The news of the resurrection puts us under obligation too. The eighth-century Gelasian sacramentary states, no, it sings:

The moment we have longed for has come,
the night of our desires is here!
What greater occupation could there be than for us
to proclaim the power of your resurrection!

To proclaim the Good News of Jesus' having arisen and of our rising with him is an act of thanksgiving, the overflow of a profoundly grateful heart. It's nothing more, nor less, than striving to live out the summons of Ephesians 4.23-24:

"Surely, you heard of [Christ] and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness."

Focusing on seven qualities

During each week of this Eastertide season we shall focus on one (of the seven) character qualities that English Puritan pastors commended as appropriate behavior for those who have become resurrected with Jesus. To practice these qualities, they said, is to engage in imitatio Christi: to imitate our risen Lord.

The seven qualities are:

  • Vivid awareness of greatness and goodness of God
  • Conscious fidelity to the Scriptures
  • Deep longing to please and honor God
  • Strong self-searching and self-denial: a servant spirit
  • Worshipful intimacy with God through Jesus Christ  in the Spirit's power
  • Generous compassion and humility toward others
  • Simplicity of spirit: adult in knowledge, childlike in wonder

Jesus is alive. In him and through him, we too are alive. God's Word bids us: Lean hard upon the resurrected Lord. Learn to live and grow in his resurrection life and power.

Hymn

Thee I shall constantly proclaim,
though earth and hell oppose;
Bold to confess thy glorious name
before a world of foes.

His only righteousness I show,
his saving grace proclaim;
'tis all my business here below
to cry "Behold the Lamb." (C Wesley)?

Prayer

Almighty God,
who through the death of Your Son has destroyed sin and death,
and by his resurrection has restored innocence and everlasting life,
grant that we may be delivered from the dominion of the devil,
and our mortal bodies raised up from the dead.
Grant that I may confidently and wholeheartedly believe this,
and finally with your saints,
share in the joyful resurrection of the just;
through the same Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord.

(Martin Luther, 1483-1546)

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