Resurrection Hope: What Easter Means for the Everyday-Life of Christians

By: Antipas Harris
Sunday, April 24th, 2011

John 11:25a records Jesus saying, “I am the resurrection and the life.”  In a time of wars, terror threats, various earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, tsunamis, political unrest and social mayhem, it is imperative that preachers emphasize the existential hope extended to humankind in Christ’s resurrection. Year after year, Easter sermons have de-emphasized the bloody cross and the heinous events that constitute the celebration of “Good Friday.” But we must not cater to the romantic end of the story without giving sufficient gaze into the painful process prior to Easter. The actual events prior to Easter impact the hope we find in Easter. Over the anuls of Hebrew history, Jews have celebrated “Passover.” Passover emphasizes the blood of the lamb that gives hope to Israel in the middle of a night of death. Passover in the first century was when Jesus was crucified.

That Passover, moreover, Jesus became the bloody Lamb. He experienced a night of merciless beatings, an unfair trial, a struggle to carry the burden of the cross up Calvary’s hill, a torture of nails, thorns and a piercing in the side. Easter is triumph through death, hell and the grave. Easter is triumph through torture, injustice, pain and agony. Easter, therefore, is life breaking through death, triumphing pain and agony. Easter is victory in spite of oppression. Easter is victory through the cross.

Liberation theologian and archbishop Paulo Evaristo Arns’s article “Easter and the Hope of Victory” sheds light on the existential implications of Easter. Yet, he does not go far enough into the practical dynamics worth exploring.  He writes, “A people liberated from bondage were to remember that God saw their misery and descended to free them in order to give them the possibility of living another social model based upon equality, justice and solidarity. Easter is the memory of the liberating transit of God who of a slave people made a free and equal people.” As we observe our times, watch the news and engage ministry to the broken, one admits that even in the “land of the free and home of the braves” people are not always free. People, here, are not always brave. Over the past 10 years events in our history such as 9/11, other terror attempts, earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, and oil spills (to name a few) have challenged our freedom and cast a shadow of fear over our former bravery.

A few days ago and in my neighborhood, a young man attempted to rob the bank in the broad daylight. The police caught him. Yet, out of fear for his own life, the police shot the robber and landed him in the hospital. The situation impacted our community such that people are more protective. Unlike the late eighties/early nineties in Manchester, Georgia, I am careful to lock my car and house doors — even in the middle of the day. Things have changed! We seem to fear each other more than we help each other.

It becomes more and more clear that Christians must re-read the story of Easter for it’s meaning in light of the current global challenges.  Not only does Easter equalize people groups but frees people from fear, pain and frustration indicative of global challenges. Easter teaches us that there is hope beyond the moment that propels us forward. Yet, hope is in the moment inspiring and encouraging us to hold on to the great expectation. Even when we have no more strength to hold on to hope, resurrection hope in Easter captures us and carries us beyond adversity to a place of promise. Sometimes the end of calamity is beyond the horizon. So then, we cannot glimpse a ray of light at the end of the tunnel.

Theologian Cornell West explains, “Hope and optimism are different. Optimism tends to be based on the notion that there’s enough evidence out there to believe things are gonna be better, much more rational, deeply secular, whereas hope looks at the evidence and says, “It doesn’t look good at all. Doesn’t look good at all. Gonna go beyond the evidence to create new possibilities based on visions that become contagious to allow people to engage in heroic actions always against the odds, no guarantee whatsoever.” That’s hope. I’m a prisoner of hope, though.”

If West is correct in his differentiation between optimism and hope, the hope of Easter is not optimism. It is not optimism because Passover death aimed to kill any possibility of life.

Christians do well to celebrate both Passover and Easter. At Passover (the Celebration of Good Friday), Jesus’ interlocutors stacked the odds against him. But, on the third day, death could not sting Him and the grave could not hold Him. Jesus got up in victory! If our lives are hid in Christ in God, we hope in Christ’s resurrection. No matter how difficult it seems, how bad it looks. Hold on to hope — resurrection hope!

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Antipas Harris
This entry was posted by on Sunday, April 24th, 2011 at 3:09 pm and is filed under Church Ministry, Theology, Urban Renewal, Worldview. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

3 Responses to “Resurrection Hope: What Easter Means for the Everyday-Life of Christians”

  1. Brailford says:

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  3. Hey Greg, did you know the bible commands us to Prosper???