Word of the Month

The Lord is risen indeed!

April 2011

Easter is the feast of the Resurrection. Although everything seemed to have come to a bitter end after Christ’s death on the cross and His subsequent entombment, Easter morning brought a great turn in the tide. The message: “The Lord is risen indeed!” (cf. Luke 24: 34) began to spread like wildfire among the disciples. First it was the women who brought the news of the empty grave to the disciples. Immediately there was a question as to whether one believed in the resurrection or not. According to the account by Luke, the first reaction of the Apostles to the message of the women that the Lord had resurrected was a complete lack of acceptance: “And their words seemed to them like idle tales, and they did not believe them” (Luke 24: 11). There was only one among them, namely Peter, who could not let the matter lie. He ran to the grave in order to see what had happened for himself. From then on there was a constant debate – today we would call it a controversy – surrounding the question: “Did the Lord truly resurrect or not?” It was only gradually that belief in the Resurrection began to take root among the disciples. They first had to come to terms with everything that had happened. Although the Risen One appeared to them repeatedly and even ate and drank with them in order to convince them of the fact that He had physically resurrected, they still had their doubts even at His ascension – forty days after Easter! It says in Scripture: “Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had appointed for them. When they saw Him, they worshipped Him; but some doubted” (Matthew 28: 16-17).

This means that the disciples and Apostles also had a struggle when it came to believing in the Resurrection – some more than others. They did not simply set out zealously on Easter Sunday with flags waving to proclaim to the whole world: “The Lord is risen indeed!” They too first had to fathom these events and come to their own personal decision about where they stood.

We can feel with them somewhat. What had just happened was so unfathomable, so inexplicable, and so incomprehensible that they had their doubts at first. And that is exactly how it was with many others when they first heard the news: “The Lord is risen indeed!”

Paul preached about the Resurrection when he was in Athens. Scripture relates the following about the reaction of the inhabitants: “And when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked, while others said, ‘We will hear you again on this matter’” (Acts 17:32). Again, the Resurrection provoked various reactions. Later in his life, when Paul had to give account of his actions before Agrippa and Festus, he said: “Why should it be thought incredible by you that God raises the dead?” (Acts 26: 8). In other words, Greeks, Romans, and Jews alike all had their problems with the notion that the Lord had resurrected and actually conquered death.

And how do things look today? It is a tragedy: the Resurrection, the core element of Christian faith and message, is no longer relevant for most people.

It must never come to the point that the Resurrection is no longer a relevant topic for us! I have complete understanding for one or the other who has a little trouble with this, even if they doubt here and there. That is not all that tragic. What would be tragic is if the resurrection of Christ, the events of Easter, and the wonderful hope for our own ascension and transformation associated with it were no longer a topic of interest for us. It would be a great tragedy if we no longer knew what to make of it. This must always be a topic of greatest relevance for us! It is simply part of human nature for doubts to arise here and there. But those who remain with the Lord will also gain certainty and clarity. The Lord will not abandon those who battle for faith, but will grant them victory.

This is the foundation of our faith and our future: “The Lord is risen indeed!” When He returns we too will partake in His resurrection!

(From a divine service by the Chief Apostle)