Christ is Still Risen by Guest Blog Writer: Jake Rehm
“But the angel said to the women, 'Do not be afraid; for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay.'” Matthew 28:5-6
The past couple of months have really rung us through the wringer, haven’t they? With the onset of COVID-19 and the fallout caused by it, I wouldn’t blame you for wondering where God has been in all of this. Many of us have lost jobs. Most of us have had to cancel plans. Our social lives have been decimated. Our routines have been upended. People have died. Many are scrambling, trying to find out whose fault this is (we love assigning blame). Many are calling the whole thing a hoax, citing their “God-Given Right” to not cooperate with social-distancing guidelines, likely making the matter even more volatile. As during any event involving death, many are the skeptics pointing out that a “good God wouldn’t have allowed this.” The reactionary types suggest that this is God’s punishment on a sinful world. Indeed, during tragedies, one tends to see a drastic increase in armchair theologians, eager to give their opinions. The point of all of this, I suppose, is that there is confusion, anger, questioning, and ultimately a sense of abandonment. Fear has ascended, and discouragement has taken occasion.
Yet, Christ is still risen.
“Yes, yes,” you say. “I know He is still risen. What does that have to do with the current state of things?”
A fair enough question. Our sense of justice, framed so much by Christian thought, suggests that pain, in general, is not a good nor justifiable thing. We want justice, we want accountability. If God is just, shouldn’t He give it to us?
Though done at home or in private, many of us recently celebrated the Easter holiday. This celebration is generally regarded as the most important date on the Christian calendar, since we are, in fact, observing and celebrating the resurrection of our Lord. It’s easy to turn “Christ is Risen!” into another trite and empty phrase when one doesn’t really stop to consider what the phrase truly means. When we celebrate Easter, we not only celebrate, but participate in Christ’s resurrection. By offering himself up for crucifixion, Christ took our sin and malfunction upon Himself. We as a spoiled species could not perfectly do this on our own. We had to be bailed out by the only person who truly didn’t deserve his punishment. And it was a bad one. We think of the cross, the suffering, the humiliation, and the dire finality of it all. Were there ever true injustice, true horror, it was on full display at the cross.
Of course, three days later, quite literally everything changed. Not only did Jesus raise from the dead – he defeated death. This victory doesn’t just buy us reconciliation with God (something we could never have hoped to attain on our own), it draws us into participation with Him. It gives us occasion to once again take part in that which we were created for – fellowship with our Father. This fellowship gives us peace that our earthly minds could never make sense of. While this doesn’t give us a “get out of jail free” card regarding suffering or loss in this life, it quite certainly gives us a hope that has already defeated death.
Though pain and injustice may loom large, we have a Risen Lord who gives us hope regardless of our situation. If you feel that things have gotten difficult, think of the saints who have gone before you, and the challenges they faced. If you have a loved one with COVID, think of the early Roman Christians who, during the first plague, volunteered to care for those infected when no one else would. If you feel hopeless, remember that, in Christ, you have an enduring hope that no earthly power can take from you. If you suffer, remember that Christ suffers alongside you. And no matter the state of this world, Christ is still risen.