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  • Writer's pictureChurch of the Incarnation

Easter: He is Risen indeed, Alleluia!

Let me ask you the question that Jesus asks Peter early on in his ministry: who do people say that I am? Think for a moment about your friends, your kids, your grandkids, or those you know who don’t go to church. Who do they say Jesus is? I’ve heard people say that he’s a wise man; he’s a sage; he’s a type of hero because he’s an antihero who dies; I’ve heard people say he’s a projection of people’s hopes and desires for peace and goodness. 

But let me ask you this with Jesus: who do you say that Jesus is? That would be the question I would be nervously and excitedly pondering if I dared approach the tomb where Jesus was laid three days later. If I’d been following him like a disciple, I’d know that he said he was bringing the kingdom of God; that he can do it because he said that he and the Father are one and so when they see him, they’re seeing God himself. 

And if they are seeing God in Jesus, then they are going to receive and are witness to God fulfilling his own promises as he said he’d do in Isaiah: “I will bring this about myself.” And what is it that God promised? To reconcile not just the Jews, but everyone to him. First God promised Abraham he’d do this. And then Jesus came and said that the Father sent him to draw all those suffering the sin of the first Adam back to him through his Spirit. 

We see this play out in Jesus’s mission with the disciples. Out he went to the Roman tax collectors and the outcast Samaritans. He went to those who were not Jewish and and non Jewish. To many women, and to men. To rulers and slaves and everyone in between. To those who had the greatest ability and those who were not as able. He went to those who were supposed to be holy and weren’t, to those who were holy and held tight to his strange ways, and those who could only cling to him, out of desperation and nowhere else to turn by grabbing the threads of his cloak, giving everything they had so that they might lose their lives, but find them in him. 

I know the stories. You know the stories. We know, because this is what God tells us in every single story of Scripture, that the way to life in God is not clinging to what we have, or where we’ve been, or what we’ve done in the past, or who we think we are, but letting go of these things so that we can be remade to be like Christ, the one and only true human being.

But here’s the thing. All of what I’ve said hinges on one essential reality: was this one called Jesus raised from the dead? Was he resurrected? This is the point in your explanation at which your friends and neighbours might avoid eye contact. In fact, it’s the point that many Western Christians want to let go of altogether. How embarrassing. Raised from the dead. Who would believe that! 

And yet it is only when Jesus is raised from the dead that God’s promises are fulfilled. His faithfulness to God the Father as a human being is united to his reality as God the Son at the moment of his death where his willing sacrifice releases human beings from their self earned fate. His love for his Father is his mission to love you and I even as we reject him when we cast stones and shout in denial at his being God when we sin, let him save himself we shout with Satan. But he does not remain in his descent to hell. The faithful man rises as the Son, drawing you and I up out of the darkness of a world darkened by the realities of sin that we see all around us, blinded to the light of grace, of peace, of unity with one another to God. 

Who do you say that Jesus is? We can give some answers with those through history: Jesus is the Great Physician who heals our brokenness, the Victorious Redeemer who defeats the powers of sin and death, the Faithful Son who fulfills the law and becomes our righteousness, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, the Cursed Sinner who becomes a curse for us, hanging on the tree, the Last Adam who perfects humanity and turns us to new life.

But I’d say something more personal about who Jesus is: Jesus is hope. Jesus is the hope that love is not finite or arbitrary, or contingent on me getting things right. Rather Jesus shows us that God’s love is eternal and unchanging.

So Jesus is hope that because we are already in God, we can live in this world of brokenness now with courage to take the risk of doing things differently when the old ways aren’t working, instead of fear that everything is falling apart because it doesn’t look like it once does and we can’t control or necessarily see the outcome; with faith instead of frustration that things aren’t going the way we expect; with joy in being able to do just a little bit to help when we see others need it, rather than with despair that we can’t do enough.

We can live with patience and forgiveness because we know that God makes all things right in his time, not our own time. We can learn to let go of what we want because the God who took on our failures to get things right, will get it right if we trust in him and turn our lives, our work, our situations, our parishes, our practices, over to him.

Finally, this resurrected Jesus of ours is hope that enables wisdom to develop and guide our hearts into his peace, not the world’s peace, but God’s own. AMEN   

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