It really is great news that we celebrate on the First Day of every week, but which becomes specially meaningful this weekend. Jesus Christ rose again from the dead. Death is not omnipotent. It will not have the final word. Because of Jesus, “death has been swallowed up in victory”.
I reckon that the greatest fear we all have is the fear of death. And it used to destructive effect by the forces of evil in our world. Terrorism exercises its power by threatening indiscriminate death. But in face of such evil, we affirm the resurrection of Jesus Christ, and sing the words of the Townend and Getty hymn with energy and gusto, “death is dead, love has won, Christ has conquered”.
Not everyone receives this message with joy or enthusiasm. Some doubt that the resurrection is scientifically possible or historically accurate. But without it, we have no hope, no message and no confidence for the future. That’s Paul’s point in I Corinthians 15. That is why he affirms the resurrection so clearly, “But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead”.
Nobody states it more clearly than Bishop Tom Wright:
No wonder the Herods, the Caesars, and the Sadducees of this world, ancient and modern, were and are eager to rule out all possibility of actual resurrection. They are, after all, staking a counter-claim on the real world. It is the real world that the tyrants and the bullies (including intellectual and cultural tyrants and bullies) try to rule by force, only to discover that in order to do so they have to quash all rumours of resurrection, rumours that would imply that their greatest weapons, death and deconstruction, are not after all omnipotent…..It is the real world that, in the earliest stories of Jesus’ resurrection, was decisively and for ever reclaimed by an event, an event which demanded to be understood, not as a bizarre miracle, but as the beginning of the new creation. And however dangerous this may turn out to be, it is the real world in and for which Christians are committed to living and, where necessary, dying. Nothing less is demanded by the God of creation, the God of justice, the God revealed in the crucified and risen Jesus of Nazareth.
N.T. Wright, The Resurrection of the Son of God (2003, Minneapolis, Fortress) p 737