Image source: EastAsiaSchoolofTheology
Today is Resurrection Sunday when Jesus rose from the dead; we read in Matthew 28:1-7 (NIV) (shortened): “After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb. There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone… The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid… you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said… from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee…”.
Before the resurrection, the fear of death ruled over everyone – both the righteous and the unrighteous. Death was viewed by some as the end of life, and by others as a transition to a dark prison for everyone good or bad. Why love your wicked neighbor, if both you and your wicked neighbor end up a dark prison after death? The teachings and resurrection of Jesus changed all that; Jesus taught his followers to love God, love their neighbor, and look forward to life after death.
As a result, Apostle Paul could write in Philippians 1:20-24 (NIV): “I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. 21 For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. 22 If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! 23 I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; 24 but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body.”
Paul was locked up in prison and facing a death sentence by the Roman government, for preaching about Jesus. Yet, he continued preaching Jesus and in this letter to the Philippians, he boldly told the Church that “to live is Christ and to die is gain”. Paul had absolute confidence that he would resurrect to a better life after death – where did this faith come from? It came from knowing that Jesus died and resurrected; Jesus proved to his followers that new life after death is possible!
Resurrection Sunday is a reminder to all Christians of a new life after death; it is also a renewed call to everyone to look to Jesus the first born from the dead, as the messiah with power to give life after death. He is risen, so that we too can rise!
I pray we all get to experience this new life, Amen!