Christ is Risen! The Lord is Risen Indeed!
Or, if you like the Greek, “Christo Anésti! Alithós anésti!”
The Gospel of Matthew tells us (28:17): “When they (the disciples) saw him, they worshiped him, but some doubted.”
Mark tells us that Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome “went out and ran from the tomb, for terror and bewilderment had seized them. They said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid.” (Mark 16:8). It continues that when Mary Magdalene told the disciples that He was alive and she had seen Him, they did not believe her. Again, the disciples did not believe the two who had encountered Him on their way to the country.
Luke tells us when the women told the disciples that Jesus was risen, it seemed like pure nonsense to the disciples, and they did not believe them.
When the disciples walked along the road to Emmaus – they did not recognize Jesus, even though He walked right along with them.
John tells us “They did not yet understand the scripture that Jesus must rise from the dead.” Mary Magdalene turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus.
Thomas famously said, after being told by the other disciples that they had seen the Lord, “Unless I see the wounds from the nails in his hands, and put my finger into the wounds from the nails, and put my hand into his side, I will never believe it!”
Doubt. Terror. Bewilderment. Fear. Not believing. Ridiculing. Not recognizing. Not understanding. Defiant: “I will never believe it!”
Even though Jesus had told the disciples that He would be killed and then rise again, it was just too far from their faith in how the world worked. People died, yes. People were killed, yes. But people did not rise again, no matter if they told you they would or not. If this is how the disciples reacted, is it any wonder that the people of the world are even more skeptical and mocking?
Though we proclaim, “Christ is Risen!” how many of us would recognize if he leaned over and said “Hi!”? Maybe not physically recognize (how many know what He truly looked like 2000 years ago?), but spiritually recognize?
When you have thoughts or feelings or things are happening that you think “this is definitely not coming from me” – how do you know if they are from God, or not? Despite our own doubt, bewilderment, perhaps even fear – how do we discern the voice of Christ to us?
Compare what you are perceiving to what the Bible says. Start with the Gospels, for they contain Christ’s words and actions. Examine the New Testament, for it describes a people, much like we are, struggling to figure out what it means to live in God’s world as opposed to the world of humanity. Look at the Old Testament, for it describes how God reaches out, over and over again, to all of us.
Learn what the church, the people of Christ struggling to understand and follow His way, have learnt, and taught, over the past 2,000 years.
Worship and discuss with the present-day people of Christ, those in your parish, about what you are experiencing.
If what you are receiving aligns with the above, then you may be encountering Christ! There is a cardinal rule which I suggest you apply: is what you are receiving encouraging you to love, to do what is best and healthiest for a person or people? If ‘yes’, then it sounds like something God would give you.
As we have experienced this past few years, the world is unpredictable, often bewildering and can be filled with fear and despair, where death is the norm. But rejoice! Christ is Risen! And He wants to walk with you – away from fear, despair, and death; towards trust, love, and life – eternal life. As Jesus said, “I am with you always” (Matt 28:20).
The Lord is Risen Indeed. Alleluia!
The Rt. Rev. David Greenwood