Easter 2018

In the history of the world, only one tomb has ever been had a rock rolled before it, and a soldier set to guard to prevent the dead man Jesus from rising . They certified that he was dead, yet they watched because he had called his body the temple, which if destroyed will built up in three days. He compared himself to Jonah who was in the belly of a fish for three days and three nights. He is the one who raised dead Lazarus, son of the poor widow of Naim and daughter of Jaiurs. The enemies of Christ expected the resurrection, but it was unfortunate that his friends and disciples did not. The weeping Magdalene came to the tomb to anoint and not to see the resurrected Lord, but to anoint his body.

Dr. Paul Tillich one of the great minds of the time was asked to given lecture in the University of Chicago Divinity School. The talk lasted for two hours, in which he tried to quote scholars after scholars, book after books to prove that there was no resurrection and it is completely fabricated. Well after the talk he asked the audience if they had any questions that he would be willing to answer myth of Christianity. After his talk, he asked the audience if they had any questions, which he will be willing to answer. An young man from behind got up and said, Dr. Tillich, I have a question and started to eat an apple. As he was eating he said, I am neither a scholar not have I read any books as much as you have done. In the mean time he had finished eating the apple. My question is could you tell me about the apple I have eaten is eaten is sweet or sour? Dr. Tillick said, I cannot possibly answer as I have not tasted it. The young lad responded neither have you tasted my Jesus. The audience applauded him for his courage and deep faith in Lord. Taste and see the Lord is good Ps.34,8

The resurrection of Christ is the basis of our Christian faith.  It is the greatest of the miracles – it proves that Jesus is God.  That is why St. Paul writes: “If Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain; and your faith is in vain”… …  And if Christ has not been raised, then your faith is a delusion and you are still lost in your sins…  But in fact, Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep” (I Cor 15: 14, 17, 20). “Jesus is Lord, he is risen” (Rom 10: 9) was the central theme of the kerygma (or ‘preaching’), of the apostles because Jesus prophesied it as a sign of his divinity:  “Tear down this temple and in three days I will build it again” (Jn 2: 19). The founder of no other religion has an empty tomb as Jesus has.  Resurrection of Jesus is so foundational to the Christian faith that there are 213 references to the death and resurrection of Jesus in the New Testament. St. Paul’s letters alone have 81 references to the death and resurrection of Jesus

Christ is risen, therefore our sins have been forgiven … we have risen with him to a new life, Christ’s own life have been given to us. .. we are all children of God. .. we are all brothers and sisters. … we have nothing to fear from the devil.

Resurrection of Jesus is not just an event in history that happened once upon a time in the life of a Master called Jesus. It has been an experience that transformed the whole life of his disciples. It is an experience that changed the track of human history forever. A tremendous experience, the disciples of Jesus experienced. We read of different encounters of resurrected Jesus with his disciples in the Gospels. They meet him in the closed rooms, on the way, on the seashore. In different ways! In different forms! He strengthens their faith. He provides them a new way of looking at realities, which they were not able to do till then. Their life gets transformed by an experience, which had no physical proof available.

Two things are worth considering: First of all, the disciples experienced a new level of freedom in their life, which until then they were not able to do. The bondages of the body, the chains that bind one to this world, the relations, the fears and aspirations of the mind are broken into pieces. A new level of existence slowly begins to reveal itself to the disciples and through them to the human existence. How is one going to achieve this new level of existence? The real freedom comes through opening up of the doors of one’s existence to unselfish love and unconditional forgiveness. When the doors of one’s heart and soul are kept open to the unencumbered embrace of even the enemy; then that is the point of flight heavenward. That is the moment of resurrection. That is the realm of the resurrected life.

Secondly, the proof of resurrection is the transformed life. The transformed life of the disciples is the only proof of the resurrection of Jesus. The courage and conviction they manifest in later days speak volumes of the reality of resurrection. One divine touch is waiting for us to transform us into new creations. In Johannine version of Resurrection apparition, Jesus calls out to Mary Magdalene, “Mary”. Immediately Mary turns around and calls, “Rabooni (Master)”. She has been talking to the same person for quite some time. But the right moment of transformation came when the call came from the master. It was an immediate “turning around” for Mary. The doors of realization open wide on her face. She runs fast to others to convey the new experience she started experiencing before its warmth subsides. This is resurrection experience.

Faith in the resurrection of Jesus invites us for a transition from the old way of life to a new way of life as depicted by St. Paul in his letter to Ephesians (4:22-24). “Put off your old nature which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful lusts….. and put on the new nature, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.” St. Paul again describes the characteristics of the old man and the new man in his letter to the Galatians (4:19-23). The characteristics of the “old man” are immorality, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, anger, selfishness, dissension, party spirit, envy, drunkenness and the like. The Characteristics of the “new man” are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control and they are the fruits of the spirit. It will be a great contradiction if we confess our faith in the resurrected Jesus and at the same time live a life of the “old man”. Both can never go together.