Easter Sunday – “Fight Like Jesus” review
Many Christians will breathe a sigh of relief – they made it through Holy Week without dealing with the unpleasantness of Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, or Holy Saturday.
Regardless of you interaction with Holy Week, Easter is here. Here’s a vulnerable confession for a pastor to make. After going through Holy Week, Easter Sunday is a bit of a let down actually. We start off with Palm Sunday. The passion narrative is long and powerful. It tells the entire story of the week. It’s moving. It’s uncomfortable. It’s tragic. And it exposes the world for what it is.
Then we get to Maundy Thursday. There’s the Last Supper. The term itself is significant – Last. That should make us stop and wonder. There’s the foot washing – something so many Christians will avoid at all costs because it is uncomfortable. And there is the betrayal of Judas.
Then comes Good Friday. We are confronted with death. No avoiding it. Even modern funerals try their best to avoid death. Which is humorous actually. We’d rather celebrate someone’s life. Why exactly are we gathered though with a coffin or urn in our midst if not because of death?
Holy Saturday. The day that people think nothing happens. But much is happening. And it is on Holy Saturday that we have the Easter Vigil. Personally, this is my favorite worship service of the year. It has pomp, circumstance, the story of God’s covenantal love with all of creation, remembrance of baptism, movement, and the first declaration of the resurrection. Throw in some baptisms and Confirmations and it’s got the whole sha-bang. Plus it’s the first proclamation of Resurrection – the incredible witness to something earth shattering that still impacts us today. It’s got it all. Which is why Easter Sunday is a bit of let down for me I think.
Porterfield keeps it simple for us for Easter Sunday. “…the resurrection signified the beginning of the future promised by God. To put it differently, with the raising of Jesus, God’s future had begun to break in to the present world order.” (pg. 173). Now that’s something I can get excited about.
Which leads to Porterfield’s lesson for the day – Christlike peacemakers cultivate the future promised by Jesus.
“When Mattathias lay on his deathbed and instructed his five sons to ‘avenge the wrong done to your people. Pay back the Gentiles in full’ (1 Maccabees 2:67-68), his dying words sparked a violent revolution. Two hundred years later, when Jesus hung on a cross and cried out, ‘Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing’ (Luke 23:34), his dying words also sparked a revelotion, though this revolution would be nonviolent in nature.” (Pg 175).
In other words, God’s Kingdom is already unfolding in our midst. And we are invited to participate in it. Easter isn’t about some future mythical time. It’s about now and in the future. The future is now. God bridged the gap.
Jesus was closing the cycle of what started for him at the beginning of Holy Week as he entered Jerusalem weeping, lamenting that Jerusalem did not know the things that made for peace. “What if, in speaking these words, Jesus was aching for a future in which people did know the things that make for peace? In other words, what if Jesus was saying, ‘If only knew the things that make for peace, then the endless cycles of violence that plague this world could finally be broken.'” (Pg. 178).
Indeed they would. But I wonder if that scares us too much. I wonder if that’s the reason why we dare not try peace and stick with it. Maybe we fear the Kingdom of God. What would we do when there is no one to hate or fear, no one to see as an enemy. What would we invest all our money in, if we no longer needed weapons of war or guns for self-defense. What would we do if we cared for the poor and outcast and welcomed the stranger with real hospitality to the point where there were no more people in need?
“Despite the majority of Christians around them bracing the way of the hammer, Francis of Assisi, Corrie ten Boom, and Bishop Kiril chose the way of the Lamb. They learned from Jesus the things that make for peace. And instead of just sitting on such knowledge, they put it into action.” (Pg. 179).
So the question now becomes, what do we do in response?