Another four stanzas of “Christ the Lord is risen today, Al----le-lu-ia”, another planting of tulips and lilies, another reading of resurrection appearance stories, another shout of “Christ is risen! He is risen indeed!” (with masks), another egg hunt (outdoors with social distancing), another chocolate Easter bunny, and another bite of marshmallow peeps. Like Christmas, Easter can become rote and commercialized. How can we make Easter cool again? Wrong question.
What is theologically exciting about the resurrection of Jesus? Every year since the stone was rolled away, our view of Easter has been pointing in two directions. Looking back, we rejoice in God’s decisive victory over death. In 1 Corinthians 15, Paul speaks of Jesus’ resurrection as the first fruits of a harvest yet to come. We, who proclaim Jesus as Lord, are the harvest, as we look forward to our own bodily resurrection at his second coming.
As exciting as the thought of being raised from death to life is, there is mystery surrounding the resurrected body. On the risen Christ, the wounds were still visible. He seemed to appear and vanish at will, unencumbered by doors and walls. Beyond that, we have little to go by. We imagine our resurrected body to be free from aches and pains, diseases and handicaps, decay and atrophy. But Paul’s anticipation is of a different sort. Using the analogy of a seed “dying” and “rising” as a plant, he retains a sense of continuity and discontinuity between our old and new bodies. We will leave behind our earthly body of perishability, dishonor, and weakness—all that we experience in this life. Unlike us, Paul envisions a transformation not merely in physical but especially in eschatological terms. Our resurrected body will never perish because it is raised in and for God’s glory by God’s power—a body perfectly fit for being with God eternally. If God’s original creation leaves us awestruck and lost for words, imagine the final re-creation!
Such musings added a spring to my step as I trudged up a low hill on my walk today. Perhaps I should think about flying. What if there were no gravity in eternity?
Dr. Chen came to Palmer Seminary in 2004 after earning her Ph.D. from Fuller Theological Seminary. She loves the classroom and enjoys writing for the church. Her most recent work is a commentary on Luke (2017) in the New Covenant Commentary Series. Born and raised in Hong Kong, Dr. Chen has spent the last four decades on both coasts of the United States and still calls California home. She lives in Penn Valley, PA, and is an ordained elder of Narberth Presbyterian Church.