Prayer of Easter, Resurrection Day

Hallelujah! The Lord is Risen! Hallelujah!

May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with us this day.
May this meal be blessed as we gather to celebrate together.
May your love be shared amongst us as we enjoy the gift of fellowship.
May we remember to offer grace and forgiveness that you have freely given us,
And may we always give thanks for your sacrificial love.
Amen.

The Resurrection of Christ, by Anthony van Dyck, 1631. Flemish. Movement: Baroque.

Comment on art: Wonderful…simply wonderful! This would be one of my favorite resurrection art pieces. It is filled with action and passion. The emotions of shock and glory of Jesus resurrecting is depicted in this extremely moving piece.

What is Easter?

Resurrection by Andrea Mantegna (1431-1506), tempera on wood, 70×92 cm, detail depicting Christ, 1457-1459

Easter comes two days after Good Friday. It is the fulfillment of the prophesied Messiah who was to come. We know the Messiah or Savior as Jesus who resurrected from the dead.

Christians commemorate Easter as the most holy day in Christianity. It is the reason believers in Christ Jesus believe in new and eternal life. Jesus rose again from the dead and defeated death; thereby, giving us the promise of eternal life that we will also rise again.

Holy week (Passion week) begins after Palm or Passion Sunday. Known as Pashchal (Holy/Easter) Triduum to Catholics, this includes the evening of Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday (last three days of Lent). Devoted Catholics have traditionally observed these days with prayer, fasting and abstinence.

Everything builds up to the grand finale. Easter Sunday morning is like the grand finale when Jesus is resurrected from the dead. As Christians, Jesus resurrection is the reason we sing “Hallelujah” and give the Lord praise and glory.

Comment on art: This piece by Montegna is full of life. The Roman gaurds are in shock. Their expressions are priceless. Jesus stands one foot on the tomb pointing to the sky as if to say, “I have conquered death… and up is where I’m going.”

What is the origin of Easter

The Resurrection of Christ, 1700 (oil on canvas) by Noel Coypel (1628-1707)

Jesus’ resurrection happened over 2,000 years ago. Over 500 Christians saw Jesus personally after he resurrected in bodily form. He walked and talked with people right up to the time he ascended into heaven (1 Corinthians 15:1-11). We as Christians have a very unique and wonderful story of resurrection. We also have a very unique God-man who lived in our human history. Jesus actually walked this earth. He healed the sick, lame, blind, and taught about good news that set people free from religious bondage. Best thing of all was that Jesus rose from the dead.

You might have heard that the origins of Easter were pagan. The word “Easter” comes from the word Ashtur or Ishtar. Ishtar who gave birth to Tammuz. The mythical Tammuz had died and was resurrected. Despite the pagan origins of Tammuz’ resurrection, Jesus’ resurrection is still unique and true.

Christianity assimilated old ideas into new ones. Jesus’ resurrection was huge. It liberated the old culture from its past. The glorious resurrection of Jesus has captured the hearts and minds of billions of people because of the truth of Jesus. People are being given a new and fresh life and faith in the One who saves–Jesus Christ.

There are books written about this pagan god and cult of Tammuz and Ishtar also referred to in the bible (here). There is only a distant connection and similarities. On the whole, Jesus resurrection is unique. Jesus was the most unique person to ever walk this earth. This is why we celebrate Easter.

Comment on art: The bewilderment of the guards and the delightful surprise of the two women at the resurrection stands in stark contrast. This pieces is filled with emotion, passion, and action. The color pops. The attention to detail is there. I just love this piece.

The post-resurrected Jesus

The-resurrected-Lord-Jesus-appears-to-the-disciples-2
Picture depicts a post-resurrected Jesus with nail scars still on his hand.

When most of us think of Easter, it’s usually a simple one. Jesus rose from the dead, then ascended into heaven.  What we don’t hear much about is what happened just after Jesus resurrected.

Some dismiss or try to explain away the miracle of Jesus’ resurrection, saying that he was only a spirit-being (like a ghost).  Jesus rising as a spirit-being does not qualify as a resurrection. That’s a Star Wars myth like what we see in Obi-Wan Kenobi (New Hope) or Luke Skywalker (Last Jedi).  To be resurrected in a physical form is much harder to believe.  A resurrection is a bona fide miracle.

After Jesus had resurrected from the dead, left the tomb, he walked and talked with people in a physical form as a real human being. A week after Jesus had resurrected, we know the bible says he was still around before his ascension.  The resurrected Jesus walked around, made himself known to a lot of people, and he showed himself to people.  He was not hiding himself.

Furthermore, he wasn’t just a spirit-being floating around in ethereal space somewhere.  He actually had life in physical form. It was not the same physical body that we have today but it was a resurrected body.

In the bible, the word used for “spirit” is pneuma, but in 1 Cor. 15:44, Paul used the words: soma pneuma (“σωμα πνευματικον”) which means “spiritual body”.  This is the type of body that we, as believers in Jesus, will also be raised with.

Here are some places in the bible where the post-resurrected Jesus showed himself to his disciples in that “spiritual body”:

John 20:19-23  Enters locked room
John 20:24-29  Doubting Thomas
John 21:1-14  Another big catch
Luke 24:13-35  Road to Emmaus
Matthew 28; Mark 16:9   Women
1 Cor. 15:6    500 followers
1 Cor. 15:8    Apostle Paul

Think about it.  First Corinithians 15:6 said that Jesus appeared to over 500 of his followers!  Jesus became a legendary figure.    Witnesses testified they had been with the real live walking-and-talking Jesus.  Their testimonies would have been very hard to dispute.  No wonder the church grew.

Easter Prayer of Confession

Gracious Father,
you sent your Son to die and rise to new life
in order that death might be brought to an end
and that we might live a new life in Him.

Yet we confess that we too often have chosen to remain
captive to doubt and fear and ways that lead to death.
By our thoughts, words, and actions,
we have scorned your love,
diminished the lives of others,
and defaced your image in us.

Father, forgive us for Jesus’ sake,
and enable us by His resurrection power
to live no longer for ourselves
but for Him who died and rose again for us. Amen.

(Prayer from: http://www.missionalchallenge.com/easter-prayer-of-confession/#.VtpVQpwrKhc)

Title: The Disciples Peter and John Running to the Sepulchre on the Morning of the Resurrection.  Eugene Burnand (1850-1921)

In this painting, the artist captured Peter and John’s sense of urgency and determination.  There is also a sense of uncertainty and anxiety mixed with excitement (“could it really be true that our Lord is alive?”)  Some of us might have these same feelings. Pray that the Holy Spirit may give you certainty of Jesus resurrection and life hidden in Christ Jesus.

Easter resurrection – Happy Easter

Easter - Angel Sits on StoneSome people don’t believe that there is a resurrection.  They believe that once they have passed on from this life, there will be no other life in the future. They live, they die and memories of themselves will just fizzle away like as if they had never existed.  The Sadducees (who are different from Pharisees) didn’t believe in the resurrection.  There are some religions in the world today that don’t believe in the after-life.  If that’s the case, what purpose is there in living this life?  Why not just “live it up” while we’re here now?

We as Christians follow what Christ has taught us.  He said to the other crucified criminal next to him on the other cross that “Truly, I tell you, today, you will be with me in paradise” (Lk.23:43).  This was a promise he made to this criminal who repented of his sins.  Jesus taught about a resurrection.   There will be a resurrection of the all the dead who died believing in Jesus as Christ, the anointed One.

But why should we believe this?  We believe it because Christ has indeed risen from the dead. There are historical non-biblical documents written by non-biblical writers who wrote that there was indeed a man named Jesus who was crucified on the cross and that he was accused of going against the Roman government (ex. Josephus, Pliny, Tacitus, Suetonius).  Plus dozens of Christian historians from the 1-2 c. report his resurrection as a fact.  And the four gospels say that he has risen from the dead.  His body was not left in the tomb, but was found empty.  He was witnessed by over 500 followers in the same place at the same time (read 1 Cor. 15:6).

What we have in this life is only a short brief period of chronological time. Paul wrote in Colossians 3:2-3: Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God”.

What this means is that our real life, the everlasting life that is coming is the life that we have living with Jesus.  When we know that there is something greater to look forward to in the future, we will feel an amazing amount of freedom to just rest and to “be”. To just rest and “be” here on earth can free us from the worries of this life. It means we won’t have to strive or work like as if it were life and death. We can take it easy. It means that we can give up all the things that cause us to worry, and put the uncertain things into God’s hands. And God will give you an amazing peace that no human mind without of God can ever imagine. What this also means is that you will have peace in the next life, and also peace in this life.

A case for the resurrection of Jesus

Jesus is risen. That is why we as Christians celebrate Easter.
But for more Christians are planted seeds of doubt these days.  Science may try to ‘poke holes into the resurrected Jesus’ [ 😉 above image], but it cannot completely disprove that Jesus’ resurrection from death is impossible and unverifiable.

Is the Christian faith based on science and reliability of evidence? No, I think not.  Biblical and archeaological scholarship may be, but faith in a risen Christ  is based on faith, but not blind faith. Faith is the knowing through revelation from God’s Holy Spirit.  However, revelation and faith cannot be disproven by science either. The two are not equivalent, but yet, are inclusive of one another and not exclusive.  Biblical research does back up  the resurrection of Jesus.

There are resources for churches that give recent biblical research on the resurrection. Here’s a sample of one from Credo House called A Case for the Resurrection of Jesus by Dr. Mike Licona and Michael Patton that would be worth considering to get for your church.