After the defeat of Good Friday when Jesus was nailed to a cross and died, after the desolation of Saturday when the disciples felt abandoned like orphan children came something extraordinary.
The details differ of course as all accounts differ when written by different people from different backgrounds and different perspectives and preoccupations but the one thing all the different accounts are united about is this; Jesus is alive; Jesus rose from the dead.
It is this simple yet awe inspiring and frightening fact that propelled the Christian revolution that saw the faith balloon and spread with lightening speed across the known world.
What an earthquake Christianity caused is testified by the fact that the authority, the Roman empire that executed Jesus and later persecuted Christians wholesale had within 300 years became Christian itself. Nothing like it in history has ever come close to emulating this feat.
What happened on that first Easter morning changed everything and has had more effect on human development, history, art, culture, philosophy and everything else than any other force before or since.
It is significant that Matthew calls Sunday after Jewish convention the “first day of the week”. That first Easter Sunday is indeed the first day of the dawning of a new era, a new way of perceiving and experiencing relationships, a new way of living, a new way of perceiving God.
What happened on that first Easter morning resulted in a new sense of unbridled Joy that has sustained the church through good times and bad times for two thousand years.
Two things changed on that first Easter morning. One was that it dawned on those first disciples that there really is life after death but that everything that Jesus said and did in his life suddenly had the seal of approval of God himself.
The resurrection was God’s YES to everything that Jesus said and did and God’s NO to the corrupt and exploitative powers of this world.
These two things together point to a radical reorientation of our lives when we come to believe.
We are not alone, drifting aimlessly through space on a dying rock, completely separate from everyone and everything else. We are known – we are Loved.
We are known and loved by the very source of life itself and are forever held in the palm of his hand in this life and in the next.
What we do matters. How we live matters if we truly believe.
In Jesus’ life we have been given a template to follow. Jesus said. “Follow me, if you want to be my disciple”. Christianity is not an empty and disconnected philosophy plucked out of the ether. It is built upon a real life, lived to the full in obedience to the law of love. It is built upon a real death, faced with courage and resolve. More than this, Christianity is based upon that real man who lived and died a real life and ROSE AGAIN.
Christianity is built upon a man who re-defined our relationship with God and each other.
In our Christian life, which can often be arduous and confusing it is tempting to stop working so hard at it, we fall back into an unconscious way of living because following Jesus seems so difficult.
It is at these times that I find the words of the risen Jesus to his disciples so comforting.
The last words of Jesus, indeed the last words of Matthew’s gospel are ones of loving relationship and love;
“Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. And when they saw him they worshipped him but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them “All authority in heaven and earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always to the end of the age.
We have a God, who is outside of us, within us, and who walks beside us on this journey of life. A God who will not leave you, and will pick us up when we fall, brush us down and set us back on the right track.
A very Happy Eater to you all.