Having the Watoto choir minister to your church on Easter morning is like having RESURRECTION proclaimed in the fullest measure. Bellowed into your ear, shouting into your eyes, exploding into your heart. Having Watoto choir sharing their lives with you is seeing Redemption in full force – you cannot look away. You cannot but realise that transformation has happened and is continuing to happen throughout the world as a result of the inclusive love of God and His invitation for the nations.
2,000 over years after the resurrection of Jesus, we see the magnified version of the continuing work of the God, after Jesus announced, “the Kingdom of God is here”, we see today it is here, and it is here to stay in increasing measure. I see the resurrection life evident in my fellow Christians from Uganda, and my heart is so filled with hope. There is hope.
The first Easter morning though was filled with doubt and confusion. The Gospels accounts vary in the sequence of events, but generally we are informed that the women went to the tomb to apply ointments on Jesus’ body. One account said they were wondering how they would roll away the stone, but when they arrrived, the stone had been rolled away, the tomb empty. They ran back to the disciples and only Peter and John bothered to investigate the matter while the rest simply didn’t believe their story.
Neither Peter nor John saw Jesus at the tomb. But one account recorded Mary encountering Jesus personally after Peter and John had left. Jesus told her to send a message to the rest of the disciples, that He will be going on to Galilee (His hometown) to meet them there. Another account showed how Jesus appeared to two disciples on the way to Emmaus and explained this whole phenomena to them about Himself.
There are a few things we must realise about the time of Jesus. Firstly, there was no coherent (meaning, systematic or structured) understanding of what the Messiah would do, and certainly less evidence that the Messiah was meant to be equated to God (only in the Dead Sea Scrolls is there a very clear picture of a particular Messianic figure). Secondly, there was no fixed single understanding held by all the Jews of that time. Thirdly, there were lots of messianic figures during the time of Jesus. Fourthly, not every Jew was waiting a Saviour during Jesus time. Fifthly, how the Jewish read the Hebrew Scriptures (our Old Testament) is different from how Christians read it today. (Refer to the book The Sceptre and the Star below)
That is why, no one at that time would have seriously expected Jesus to rise. Sure, the resurrection is embedded in the Jewish mind as a given, but no one would have expected Jesus to be the first (the firstborn) ahead of everyone else.
Jesus came proclaiming that the Kingdom of God is at hand. He instituted it, launched it, by defeating – not some transient kingdom as the Romans – but sin and death. By defeating sin and death, He launched Life. True Life. A rebirth. And He launched the new humanity as part of the the new creation. Everything odd that He said to Nicodemus and His disciples clicked after.
This is the new humanity under Christ is described as a royal priesthood, a royal nation.
Such is the resurrection, peoples! This is a little gist of the Good News in all its fullness.
(For this less individualistic, less hedonistic and majestic view of the resurrection, refer to NT Wright’s Surprised by Hope. It’s going for USD1.99 now at Amazon Kindle until 30 April.)
Collins, John J., The Sceptre and the Star: The Messiahs of the Dead Sea Scrolls and Other Ancient Literature
Wright, N.T., Surprised by Hope