This is not about choccy eggs or breeding bunnies! At Easter, there is often much discussion and debate about the resurrection, both within the Church and in wider society. There is, of course, no account of the resurrection in the New Testament. What we have are a series of appearance stories in Matthew, Luke and John (none in Mark, the earliest Gospel) which are all very different from each other in detail and substance. Paul also refers to experiences of the risen Jesus in 1 Corinthians, and his own direct and personal vision in the Acts of the Apostles.
The issue is not necessarily what occurred at the resurrection, but what resurrection means, both for the first disciples and perhaps more importantly for the Church today. There would, of course, have been no Church without an understanding of the resurrection of Jesus. The earliest proclamations of the risen Jesus were that ‘Jesus Lives’ and ‘Jesus is Lord’. How is this good news? For the first disciples, ‘Jesus Lives’ is an affirmation that his cruel death through Roman capital execution, denying the power of the empire to destroy Jesus and his primary message of the Kingdom of God. Their experience of the risen Jesus enabled them to return to Jerusalem to continue the work of Jesus. For the Church today, Jesus is alive whenever and wherever the Gospel is preached and lived. ‘Jesus is Lord’ is a highly political affirmation. Quite simply, it affirms that God’s Son is Lord and not any of the other lords, both in the first century and in our own twenty-first century. Our faith in the crucified and risen lord challenges all the dominations that suppress the reality of God’s Kingdom.
Easter is, therefore, God’s vindication of Jesus. The meaning lives, and is perhaps more important than the how of resurrection.
Canon David Jennings
Canon Theologian, Leicester Cathedral