Paul’s account of the resurrection (Col 3:1-4) is the earliest written account. “Brothers and sisters:
If then you were raised with Christ, seek what is above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.”
Today, we encounter mystery beyond mystery. We encounter the corner stone of our faith. We believe that Jesus, beaten, scourged, and crucified, overcame the powers and the principalities. He overcame the power of death. New Testament writers have used story and symbol to try and give us some idea of what the resurrection of Jesus means. Paul tells us simply that Jesus is at the right hand of God.
Something very, very powerful happened that first Easter day. Think about it. The last we heard of the male followers of Jesus they were scurrying through the narrow streets of Jerusalem. They were fleeing from the security forces that had arrested their friend and leader. In spite of their protestations, when push came to shove, they abandoned Jesus. They fled into the night. The women were at the cross (and John). The men had gone underground. The women had to go find them and bring them to the tomb. Now, look at them. They are standing on housetops and street corners proclaiming, “This Jesus you crucified is risen.” The Jesus Movement is born. Such was the power of the belief and proclamation that something new was born.
The proclamation of the resurrection changed their concept of God. God did not send them a new Davidic king riding on a mighty stallion. He sent Jesus, the Suffering SERVANT, riding on the colt of a donkey. Religion is no longer about power and privilege. It is about loving and serving one another. It is about forgiving enemies and praying for persecutors. It is about feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, sheltering the homeless, caring for the sick, visiting the imprisoned and welcoming the immigrants among us. In other words, resurrection is about a new world order where justice is the norm. Right relationships among people and with all of creation are rebirthed with the freshness of a spring morning.
The members of the Jesus Movement continued for most of the first century worshipping in the synagogues on Saturday-the Sabbath-and in their home church communities on Sunday-the new day of God. Eventually, the day of God was changed to Sunday.
Ernesto Cardenal (The Gospel of Solentiname, Vol. 4, at 246 – 256) says:
It’s certain they’ve put Jesus resurrected in heaven, in another life, in the blue beyond, so that the earth will go right on being the same, and there’ll still be injustice, and there’ll still be poor people. But he rose to be here on earth: “He was dead and he goes to Galilee before you.”
Oscar summarizes his understanding of resurrected life for the Christian, “That’s crossing from death to life. If you do something good here, you’ve triumphed over death.”
As we look around after almost 2000 years, it does not seem as if the new world order of justice and peace had gained much traction. The earth seems to go right on being the same. Maybe we need to examine our beliefs. Did Jesus come to save my soul or did Jesus come so that we “might have life and everything that we need” (Jn 10:10)? If the latter, then we have work to do. We are the hands and feet, the eyes and ears of the risen Jesus.
After Jesus’ death and resurrection, the lives of the disciples and all who would come after them were to be changed. Paul made it very clear, “Seek what is above.” Seek justice. Work for peace. Live what Jesus died for. Live lives of service to humanity. Live in the person, power and presence of the Risen Jesus.