Monday, April 17, 2017

He is Risen

by Tim Howe

The arrival of Spring once again provides an explosion of color as flowers are beginning to bloom. With Spring comes Easter, the Christian holiday that celebrates new life through the resurrection of Jesus. It is a time for baskets of chocolate and for families to attend church and spend the day together in an egg hunt or around a meal.  

He is Risen
He is Risen. Three words that initiated many worship services this Easter. It is a well-known refrain for those who often attend Easter service in the Christian tradition. The words are spoken by the minister and often repeated by the congregants punctuated by an "indeed!" so as to emphasize the pronouncement's celebratory spirit. 

Two Eyewitnesses
Twice over the weekend I was reminded of men who heard the phrase many years ago. These were two eyewitnesses of the risen Jesus. The setting finds itself just after the events that encompass Passion week in which Jesus came to Jerusalem heralded as a deliverer, but was tried and executed as a blasphemer, and then disappeared from his grave. 

Luke 24 describes two men walking along a road leading out of the city discussing the events of the past week. They come across a fellow traveler who seems to be unaware of the tumultuous week's events. This lack of awareness surprises the two men who explained the happenings to their new companion.

Explained in Detail
The reader is in on the secret that it is Jesus who has inquired of these two men concerning the perplexing events. Once he allows them to set the stage, he turns the tables and explains to them what events have really transpired, but instead of going back over the course of the past week, he goes back some fifteen hundred years. Jesus describes Passion week against the backdrop of the entire Old Testament showing how things have occurred just as they were supposed to and just as they were foretold. 

Luke 24:27 tells us, "And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself." The text doesn't tell the reader exactly what passages Jesus elucidates. Wouldn't it have been nice to have eavesdropped on that conversation? Though we don't have their precise conversation recorded, we do have the Scriptures that Jesus quoted. Many theologians and Bible scholars since that time have done the very same thing that Jesus did. Books and articles have been written showing just how Jesus' life, death and resurrection fulfilled many OT prophecies, some of which were declared a thousand years before his birth.  

My personal faith journey spent some time exploring the writings of scholars who investigated and demonstrated just how Jesus' life did indeed fulfill ancient prophecies. Yet, the greatest thing said about Jesus was written not in advance of his birth, but just after his death. When the two men realized that it was Jesus who had walked with them, they rushed back to Jerusalem to share the surprising good news with their friends. Upon arrival, they were greeted with a similar good report. The eleven had their own eyewitness account, "The Lord has risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon" (Luke 24:34). Christ's resurrection was attested by many eyewitnesses. Men and women who went to their graves testifying to what they had seen by their own eyes. These eyewitness accounts are the backbone of the Christian faith.

He is Risen Indeed
He is Risen. If the testimonies are true of the eyewitnesses who saw Jesus resurrected after death there are no three more powerful words spoken.