Easter reflection - He has been raised
By Mary Caygill
Popular songs have been telling us for years that the most powerful words in any language are the words which express the conviction, ‘I love you’. And the songs are very nearly right. These words change lives. But the Church believes that there is another and equally brief message which is even more powerful and which is responsible for even greater transformations.
"He has been raised." (Luke 24:6) ‘He has been raised’ – words almost beyond belief to their first hearers. Almost beyond belief to us as well. Contrary to all prior experience and against all expectation, the man Jesus, who had been publicly executed, certified dead and decently entombed, has been raised. He is no longer to be found among the dead. He is not there; he has been raised.
“What shall I do, then, with the one you call the king of the Jews?” Pilate asked them.
"Crucify him!" they shouted (Mark 15:12-13).
It was this same announcement which created and energised the church.
It is this announcement which is shared throughout Christian churches worldwide again this Easter Sunday, however it may be celebrated and in what language, which still has the power to bring new life and new possibility to birth within individuals and communities.
They are strange words to have had so much power. Words that cannot be proved or disproved.
Words that are simply there, a bald statement of an event, a claim, a challenge, an affront, a comfort, a demand, a power. They are there to be believed or disbelieved.
As Christians we lack the means of knowing what physical event lay behind the announcement. We will never know the how of resurrection. But we do not lack the means, in faith, to recognize or celebrate its authenticity and truth.
It is not simply that an influence has survived, that a memory has been preserved, that an inspiration from the past can still stir us. Rather, we stand in a rich succession of people through the ages who have been moved to acknowledge that that Jesus, the one who was dead, now meets them, now challenges them, now leads them into the future.
The church’s claim with respect to the resurrection is wrought out of its continuing experience with a living experience of a Christ embodied and encountered in the everyday, rather than out of some mere sentimental attachment to its ancient traditions.
Where the church is alive, it is alive because it believes that its Christ has been raised and is alive and accessible through a living relationship which can then be modelled in a pattern of other relationships – one human being recognising their essential connectedness and interdependence on another human being.
Resurrection, if you like, is as an act of God whereby Jesus is released from the confines of that long ago historical past so that he can genuinely be available to his church and the created world.
It is God’s yes to the world.
It is a yes to the continuation of the qualities and values portrayed in Jesus which are to live on in embodied form to be enacted in the everyday. Word and deed remain inseparable.
Resurrection thus is indeed the feast of possibility.