Christ IS Risen!


For most of you reading this, okay probably all of you reading this, this Sunday will be Easter.  On this, we celebrate the reality that the grave could not hold the savior of the world.  We recall the events of more than two thousand years ago when the grasp that death had on humanity was broken once and for all.  This is not just some historic event that we recall like some battle reenactment, but it is a living reality, or at least it should be, a living reality in our lives.

At the Liturgy of Easter, celebrated the night before, Orthodox Christians will gather outside of the Church and read the Gospel of the Resurrection.  At the conclusion of this Gospel, holding lit candles in their hands, they will triumphantly sing Christ is risen from the dead trampling down death by death, and upon those in the tombs bestowing life!”  This is the reality of the entire Christian life but is it?

Notice the line is Christ IS risen not Christ HAS risen.  Again, this is not just some historical event but a present reality.  The risen Christ is still here with us, although not in His physical appearance, He is here, and the promise that He will never leave is as important today as it was in the first century Palestine.  But I often wonder if we believe that.

Recently, I was involved in a discussion about the saying “What Would Jesus Do?”  Several years ago this was a very popular question and was included in bumper stickers, bracelets, and all manner of media.  Through the course of the discussion, I brought up the fact that I think we are asking the wrong question. The question should not be what would Jesus do because we are not Jesus.  The question should be what does Jesus want us to do?  We will come back to that in a moment.

Prior to the celebration of Easter, we have to go through Good Friday, in order to have the Resurrection we have to have the Crucifixion there is a cost to Easter and that cost is death.  The movie The Passion of the Christ was released while I was in seminary.  A group of us went to see the movie at a local theater and then returned to the seminary for a discussion of the experience.  This movie is not for the faint of heart, and it breaks the stereotypical view of the passion.

Until that movie, we only had the sterilized view of passion of Christ.  Sure we listen to the Gospel story, and our minds paint a picture, but I am not sure we truly understood just how powerful the scene was.  Thirty-nine lashes with a whip would be enough to kill most people let alone carrying the cross on your back.  The cross beam that would have been lashed to his back weighed approximately 100 pounds and the distance he carried it was about 650 yards.  With the amount of blood loss from the whipping, it is understandable that he needed help carrying this burden.  There is a cost to the cross!

So back to the question, what does Jesus want us to do?  The answer is simple, love God and love our neighbor.  It does not get any simpler than that the problem is we have made it very complicated.  However, in order to do this we have to die to self, we have to crucify our desire in order to live for another.  I am not saying we need to go live in cardboard boxes but being a follower of Jesus requires us to look at others in a whole new way.  We can no longer look upon the homeless person as lazy and dirty, but we have to look upon them as a person that s loved by God and is our neighbor.  He does not need our pity he needs our help.  If you walk by that person and pretend you do not see him, then you are not following Christ!

Being a follower is a call to a radical lifestyle that has to rise above red or blue, right or left, Democrat or Republican, and just simply be human!  This is the cost of the cross, and we are either all in or all out we cannot be halfway about this.  Christ IS Risen!

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