It is Easter tomorrow and we will be using these three words. I belong to a church that is a part of the Christian Faith, in my case Holy Spirit Lutheran Church, an ELCA congregation in West Bloomfield, Michigan. There are many religions other than Christianity. Most of them also have a book (we have the Bible – Old and New Testaments) that contains the historical foundation of their beliefs, whether it is the Talmud, The Bhagavad-Gita, The Vedas, Qur’an, Zhuan Falun, New World Translation of the Scriptures,The Book of Mormon or Adi Granth. Most religions also have some concept of an afterlife, somewhere one goes or some state that one achieves after the death of their earthly body. I would submit for your consideration that Christianity is the only religion that has documented proof. Lawyers, whether on the prosecution or defense side of a case would probably tell you that there is no stronger evidence than corroborated testimony from eye witnesses to the events being adjudicated. In the case of Christianity, there is compelling and corroborated testimony by several eye witnesses to a remarkable event that confirms our belief in an afterlife. What those witnesses saw and reported can be summed up in the same three little words – He is risen.
The book that we use as our foundation – the Bible – has multiple, independent versions of the same events in the life of Jesus, his death and his resurrection. There are many other corroborating accounts in the books that were left out of the modern Canonical version of the Bible. Had He not come back multiple times to meet with the Disciples and confirm for them his resurrection the story would have moved forward with the belief that someone had somehow stolen His body and perhaps the whole Christian movement would have faded into history. However, accounts from the time record that He did return to appear before Mary Magdalen at the tomb and twice in a locked room with the Disciples and against on the road as two of the disciples travels to another town. There is a fascinating Web site that documents the many accounts of witnesses to this remarkable event. The evidence of these eye witness accounts is very convincing and confirms that He is risen.
Throughout his life Jesus went about doing the things that fulfilled various predictions of the future (prophesies) that had been made and recorded in the old testament, which was the historical basis of the Jewish faith. Even his death on the cross was foretold and the empty tomb gave silent testimony to the final fulfilment of the prophesies – the fact that on the third day after his death He is risen.
So, tomorrow morning we will all greet each other with those three little words – He is risen – and reply to that greeting with the retort “He is risen indeed.” We will hear sermons about the resurrection, then we will go home and celebrate the traditional, non-religious version of the holiday with Easter Bunnies, and Easter Eggs and family gatherings. We will feast on the Easter meal and perhaps end the day tired and in a stupor from too much food and drink. But somewhere, just before we drift off to sleep and head into another ordinary day in our lives, somewhere in the back of our minds we will feel a sense of well-being and peace that comes from again hearing the echo of those three little words – He is risen.
Have a happy Easter because, He is risen indeed!