Walking home from school, an eight-year-old boy rounds a corner only to find the neighborhood bully standing belligerently before him. Faster than consciousness, the body’s sympathetic nervous system kicks into high gear – blood pressure up, muscles tense (including knots in the stomach), adrenaline level spikes. All is ready for fight or flight.
Similar scenario. Walking home from school, an eight-year-old boy rounds a corner only to find the neighborhood bully standing belligerently before him. But, at the precise moment the boy sees the bully, he also sees his good father standing near, strong, confident, fully aware and protective. The boy experiences nothing but a peaceful assurance and confidently walks forward.
Roughly 1850 years ago, the prominent bishop of Sardis (an ancient city in the western part of what is now Turkey) preached an Easter homily in which he proclaimed:
The Lord, though He was God, became man. He suffered for the sake of those who suffer, He was bound for those in bonds, condemned for the guilty, buried for those who lie in the grave; but He rose from the dead, and cried aloud: Who will contend with Me? Let him confront Me. I have freed the condemned, brought the dead back to life, raised men from their graves. Who has anything to say against me? I, He said, am the Christ; I have destroyed death, triumphed over the enemy, trampled hell underfoot, bound the strong one, and taken men up to the heights of heaven: I am the Christ.
Come, then, all you nations of men, receive forgiveness for the sins that defile you. I am your forgiveness. I am the Passover that brings salvation. I am the lamb who was immolated for you. I am your ransom, your life, your resurrection, your light. I am your salvation and your king. I will bring you to the heights of heaven. With my own right hand I will raise you up, and I will show you the eternal Father.
The resurrection of Christ Jesus, which we celebrate this and every Easter, is something more than the decisive proof of the truth of Christian doctrine, though it is certainly that. It is something more than the definitive opening of the gates of heaven to “as many as would believe,” though it certainly is that as well. Easter resurrection makes possible a new way of life today. “I am with you, even until the end of the age,” the resurrected Christ tells His followers. Regardless of whatever belligerent bullies might stand before us, if we have eyes to see Him, everything about our experience changes.
It is relatively easy for children to believe in the resurrection of Jesus, but only if those dearest to them actually believe the reality. Merely believing in the doctrine is never enough to convince a child.
He is risen!
May we have eyes to see.