Ask any Christian school child what Easter is all about and you’ll get the confidant answer: That’s when Jesus rose from the dead. I’ve always wondered how Jesus would respond to that answer if he were the questioner. Given the kind of man he was, I imagine that he’d smile and say, “Very good” but he’d also whisper a quick prayer that the child would come to understand much more as she grew.
Jesus was never a self-promoter. It’s impossible to make the case from the gospels that he ever thought that it was all about him. Throughout his public life he directed his energy to instilling in his listeners an unshakable faith in the Reign of God. He strove to create in his countrymen the guiding hope for the day when the world would finally become the magnificent reality that God had been offering humanity from the start.
Jesus so totally identified himself with God’s New World that he equated his healing, his forgiving, his loving, his assurance with God’s healing, forgiving, loving and assurance. If folks would only reach out and grasp the reality he presented them with, the World of God’s Promise would be theirs. There was no gap between his love for them and God’s love for them. There would be no gap between their love for one another and God’s love for them.
Then everything crashed. There were threats and tension, an arrest and an execution. The dream, the promise died. But it didn’t.
People who had really known Jesus experienced his touch, his forgiveness, his loyalty, his joy – him – as alive as he’d ever been. The promise endured. The New World of God was unstoppable. It was theirs if they would only live it. Nothing could take it away.
Who rose on the first Easter? We did. The world did. God’s fondest hope rose.