The Gospel of the Resurrection

a fresco painting depicting the ResurrectionChrist has risen!

Christians around the world celebrate—rejoice in—this central fact in this season, and every Sunday. And I say “central” advisedly: Christ—“crucified, killed, and buried” yet risen—is the cornerstone on which our faith (and, in the end, every person, institution, and idea) stands or falls. “If Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is useless,” Paul says to the church at Corinth and to us, “and so is your faith.”

But since Christ has indeed been raised, to announce this glorious fact, as the Church has done from a mere seven weeks after the event to this very day, is to proclaim Good News—which we still call by the older name, “gospel”. First, and most importantly, the Resurrection was tangible evidence that “all God’s promises find their ‘Yes!’ in Christ”—because Jesus had risen “just as he said,” as they had seen and touched, the apostles could be certain that every other promise would also be fulfilled. Second, it is a demonstration of victory: sin and death have been defeated, and the world is being restored to its proper ownership. “Death has started working backward”—or, at least, has started coming undone. And third, the Resurrection (the event whose anniversary we are marking) is only the beginning; the same power that raised the Christ from the dead is now at work in the elect—us—and through us in the world. “We have passed from death to life,” because we are in Christ.

Christ has passed from death to life, and so too shall all those whom he shall call. Christ’s resurrection brings light into the darkness for all those whom he has made alive. Christ’s blood has made death pass over us, and his rising has brought us out of our bondage in the kingdom of darkness and into true freedom.

The message that John the Baptist preached, and that Jesus himself preached from his baptism until his death, was that “the kingdom of God is near.” That alone is good news, but the message of the gospel—the message of the resurrection of the Christ—the message of Easter—is even stronger: that the kingdom of God is here, and has won. And is within us.

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