This day (Easter) more clearly demarcates the dividing line between the world view of fallen human power from the world view of Jesus of Nazareth than any other. (This truth is asserted each Lord’s Day since it is Easter that makes the whole of the calendar change once and for all!)
While Jesus was alone in the garden, on Thursday evening of Holy Week, the army of the powerful came to take over. They represent a world which cannot tolerate the existence of another world than the world of the “big deals.” It was necessary for them to destroy the threat of uncontrolled goodness which was revealed fully in the man Christ Jesus.
- Big deals control the little people, the poor, etc.
- Big deals want mercy for some, the good people.
- Big deals want blessing for those who deserve it.
- Big deals want to reserve privilege for the righteous, people like them.
- Thus big deals believe the good news is for the rich and powerful.
- Big deals trust human power to get the job done in this world.
- Big deals promote the reign of death.
Jesus’ world view, as Easter demonstrates, was very different:
- All people can become partners with God and share in his mercy.
- God’s mercy is intended to bless all.
- Forgiveness is for sinners, the worse the sinner the greater the display of real forgiveness.
- Good news is for the poor and powerless who are pushed down by the world.
- Good news teaches us to trust in God’s power, Christ’s reign of life, and his victory over death.
The big deal religious leaders and the Roman rulers collaborated to arrest and condemn God’s beloved One who represented the dangerous reign of love and mercy, of shalom. They sentenced him illegally, stripped him publicly, flogged him mercilessly and then crucified him.
Committing his spirit into the hands of the suffering God, the incarnate bringer of peace and righteousness died. All creation groaned in travail waiting for shalom, for the reign of God to come in grace and mercy. Jesus’ body was taken down from the cross and buried in a borrowed tomb/stone grave. Guards were stationed there to seal it. The vote was in and the big deal power brokers had won. They had said:
- No to the life and teaching of Jesus!
- No to the proclamation of the reign of God.
- No to Jesus’ good news of grace and mercy for all.
The rulers returned to “normal” and the disciples were disheartened.
But one vote had not yet been counted. And you know what, it was the only one that really mattered. Yahweh entered the tomb and cried “Yes.” God cried yes to Jesus, yes to his life, yes to his death and yes to the kingdom of God. God said, “Get up Emmanuel, Come forth Lord Jesus!” All creation shouted for joy. The trees clapped their hands. The stars danced and the angels sang. The reign of God had triumphed on planet earth. Life conquered death. Jesus, who had died because the big deal wanted him gone, was now alive. Then God chose to empower a small group of women to serve as his first preachers of this new arrangement. Empowered by joy and belief, they announced: "He is risen!"
Today, almost two thousand years after that day, we still celebrate the reign of Jesus who conquered the grave to give good news to all the earth. Be filled with joy. He lives!