Saturday, March 27, 2010
Startled with fear and doubt, the best theory His disciples could come up with was that they have seen a ghost! (Luke 24:37)
So he shows them His very physical hands and feet, “Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones”.
Still they remain stunned in joy and amazement. Then Jesus gave them the ultimate evidence.
“You’ve got anything here to eat?”
And the risen Lord of the universe munched down a piece of broiled fish in front of their eyes (Luke 24:42). His resurrected body is capable of swallowing food neatly unlike those messy ghosts we find in the movie Pirates of the Caribbean.
This is no phantom. He is back – with muscles, bones and a functioning stomach.
All over the world, Christians celebrate the bodily resurrection of Jesus on Easter Sunday. It marks the end of Lent season of fasting, prayer and penance; and the beginning of Easter season that lasts for fifty days until Pentecost. Tom Wright wrote, “If Lent is a time to give things up; Easter ought to be a time to take things up.”
If Lent is a season to let go of old habits, sins and attitudes that hinder our walk with God, what are the new and wholesome things we should pick up for Easter season?
That really depends on how we understand the meaning of Easter for us today.
When many people think of the resurrection, they think of life after death in heaven. Like those popular cartoon sketches of people floating around in fluffy clouds, wearing white gowns with a harp in their hand and a halo on their head. The idea is to escape from this physical world. Life on this earth is just a temporary transit station to a disembodied state of bliss somewhere else.
And the danger of that is we can be so heavenly minded that we are of no earthly good. It creates a mentality where we withdraw from life and passively wait for the afterlife.
But the Christian hope of eternal life is not like that. It is not about running away from reality. Our ultimate future is a new heaven and a new earth. This world we live in will be renewed, transformed and restored. It won’t be abandoned or left to rot.
So we look forward to a resurrection just like Jesus’ where we will be raised to life in an incorruptible and glorified body. (Not as a ghostly, floating apparition!)
What God has done in Christ on Easter morning, He would do on a cosmic scale for the entire creation, including us. There will be no more sorrow, sickness, decay or violence for God will wipe away every tear and restore all that is good. C.S. Lewis described the future redeemed world to be more substantial, more tangible and more solid than the world as we know it.
The fullness of God's kingdom shall come and His will be done on earth as it is in heaven. So we can expect to be fruitful stewards of His renewed universe and worshipful priests who glorify and enjoy God’s presence for eternity.
But while we wait for that glorious day, we can start practicing right now! In the meantime, we are to live today as if the future is already present. The way we go about our daily chores, prayers and worship are to be signposts pointing forward to what God’s reign in its future fullness would look like.
The church community is like a movie preview: We are to display some hints, glimpses or foretastes of the actual movie so people will look at us and go, “Wow! I want to see the complete show!” New Creation: Coming soon to a planet near you…
If that is what Easter resurrection means, shall we not take up some new things that model (in small ways) the future kingdom of justice, love and hope?
Now, how would that look like?
Perhaps it could mean simple things like signing up for a new project that gets our hands dirty conserving the environment. Or maybe, getting involved in caring for the poor and the sick around us? Ever thought of spending some time and energy on a worthy social cause that promotes fairness and peace in our country?
Surely the surprising reality of Easter Sunday ought to empower us to be witnesses of Christ’s death and resurrection the way it did for the early disciples.
If the present creation and our bodies will not be forsaken but ultimately transformed, then we are to work here-and-now in anticipation of that final vision. Resurrection power is lived out in down-to-earth realities, grounded in the real world where we do business, as we cook in the kitchen, when we play with our children, study in schools, draw a painting, love and be loved, infusing everyday life with fresh spirituality and power.
If Lent is a season for fasting, then perhaps Easter should be a season of celebrating the newness of life, the goodness of creation and the hope of future glory that may even include a hearty meal of broiled fish eaten to the glory of God. (1 Corinthians 10:31)
“If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection” (Romans 6:5)