“Do not be alarmed; you are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has been raised; he is not here. Look, there is the place they laid him.” – Mark 16:6
We Christians talk a lot more about Jesus’ death on the cross than we do about his resurrection from the dead. We often imply that the cross is where Jesus does all the work that’s necessary for our salvation. That’s where Jesus died for our sins, right? Who needs the resurrection? At best we might say that Jesus’ resurrection from the dead assures us of our own resurrection from the dead. While that’s certainly true, it’s not the whole story. Not even close. Resurrection means so much more.
Resurrection is more than a reassurance that death isn’t the end, though it is that. It’s more than God’s “stamp of approval” on Jesus’ mission and ministry, God’s affirmation of all that Jesus taught and did, his preferential love for the poor and powerless, though it is that too. Jesus’ resurrection points to something radically new, a new creation, a new beginning.
The empty tomb means that the story isn’t over. The empty tomb means that Jesus isn’t merely an historical figure, a man trapped in time and space and now enshrined in the pages of a book. The empty tomb means that what Jesus began in his earthly ministry – the restoration of all that is broken in this world – is not only still happening but happening in new ways. Because Jesus is no longer bound by the limits of time and space, flesh and blood, this movement of God to restore all things is happening in ways and in places we can hardly imagine, in circumstance we thought were beyond redemption. Jesus wasn’t raised from the dead just to finish something; he was raised from the dead to start something – in you, in me, in us, in this world. Do we have the eyes, the faith, to see it?
We often think about Jesus’ resurrection as if it was only God’s answer to death. But what would it mean to also think of resurrection as God’s great question about life? Will we live as if God is at work in and through us? Will we hope as if what we experience in this life is the introduction to a story whose ending is greater than our wildest dreams? Will we awaken each day with the faith to believe that there is an unexplainable movement for good at work in the world? Will we walk with patience, believing that God is birthing new life into the deadness of sin in us and the world? Will we join Jesus in giving ourselves away, especially for the poor, the powerless and voiceless in our midst?
Christ has died. Christ is risen. Christ will come again. What does that mean for you?
Take a moment and watch this slice of inspiration about the resurrection.
Jeff Marian is lead pastor at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Burnsville, MN