It is easy to miss that Easter is describing the origin of a whole new world. Easter reveals to us more than just a God who can defy science. It is not just a story about where we will go in the next life, but about how we will experience the life we have now.
The old world, founded on hubris and jealousy and revenge, has been judged. Under the carefully contracted script of ‘peace and prosperity’ is a hidden script of brute force and merciless murder and a sea of silenced victims running with blood. In the murder of Jesus, the innocent and divine victim, all pretense is cast aside and the foundation of the world is revealed. The old world’s power - namely the ability to kill and silence its victims - has been evacuated in an empty tomb.
Jesus on the cross reveals to us where all our rage and wrath and anger and jealousy and desire for revenge lead. Jesus’ death reveals the lengths we are all willing to stoop to in order to maintain the status quo and fight for what’s “ours” and our sense of justice. Rather than flee this fate, Jesus dives all the way in, and takes in himself the cry of thousands and millions of victims who have been silenced over countless millennia.
Jesus is the innocent victim, but rather than being quietly buried and forgotten about over time, he returns and can not be silenced. And in Jesus, all who have been silenced by the foot of a bully or empire or the cruel point of a sword or the merciless flight of a bullet, find their voice in Jesus. It is finished. No more voiceless victims sacrificed on the alter of progress and success.
IT IS FINISHED: The old story is over. It is finished. This is where it leads. Jesus Crucified on the cross. If we exclude and blame and hate and hurt anyone, ultimately we end up crucifying Jesus.
But let us be brutally honest about this point: for many people, Jesus is a massive disappointment as a spokesperson. There is a script for what a hero is supposed to be, and it doesn’t include being crucified nor forgiving their oppressors and enemies. But while we were looking for a story of yet another, ultra-tough and violent hero saving us from our oppressors, there is very little Jack Bauer or Batman or Jason Borne in Jesus victory. And thank God for this “disappointing” savior. For while Easter might lack the familiar, Hollywood worthy revenge story we would expect - because that’s the way of the world we are born into - the innocent victim is not silenced. He speaks a new word into the old script: Forgiveness. And that word makes a whole new story possible. Not a story of ever proliferating arms-races, of everyone trying to be the last man or empire standing - that story is precisely what we are being saved from. This new story is the kind of story that has a place for everyone, where every voice is heard, and where we discover new ways to live in deep connection and peace with each other. This new story is about being connected and about collaborating to create a community rooted in love and mutual care and empathy rather than continuing in the old story of jealousy, competition and control. The new story is a story about how ‘together really is better’ and paves a way for all of humanity to see themselves in the same family.
Easter is the foundation of a new world. Jesus’ resurrection is the foundation of a new world. Not the world of tribal exclusion and violence and revenge, but the world imagined in Jesus words, ‘Father forgive’ and born in the resurrection and empty tomb. The old world with its massive blood debts and loyalties is gone. The new world of mutual love and sacrificial compassion for all of our neighbors has come.
Easter reveals to us more than just a God who can defy science. It is not just a story about where we will go in the next life, but about how we will experience the life we have now. Resurrection is about a life we can enter today. The question is not where we will go after this life - it’s what are we going to do with this life. Will we live BEFORE we die? Into a dark Empire seeking to so dominate that it silences the voice of its victims and erases even the imagination of a different way of being human, Resurrection light burst forth from the grave. We can experience the life and love and vitality and energy now, here, today. Will we live by resurrections light and life and love, or will we continue to live in the dark?
But why is there still more of “THIS” happening? Why doesn’t the old world seem “Finished?” Why does so much hate and vengeance remain? Because the story is just getting started. It’s a story of love and connection slowly overcoming hate and isolation and fear. In this new story, humans go two steps forward and at least one step back.