Easter Sunday proclaims in a special way the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ. After 2,000 years his Resurrection is still history’s best news. Easter announces 1. the fact or reality of Christ’s Resurrection and 2. the meaning or relevance of his Resurrection.

Jesus Christ is alive! The glorious fact of it, the grand truth of it, flares like lightning in the hearts of his followers everywhere. Modern philosophers would rather emphasize Christ’s earthly ministry, or the Cross, or even the lowly birth. Don’t borrow trouble, they tell us, by setting out from the Resurrection. But the Christian faith is founded on the Resurrection fact; the New Testament was written from a Resurrection viewpoint; and the early Church lived in the Resurrection glow. As A. M. Ramsey, now Archbishop of Canterbury, put it in his book on The Resurrection of Christ (1945): for the early disciples “the Gospel without the Resurrection was … [no] Gospel at all” (p. 7). True, the world of unbelief still echoes with the hammering of those nails, the jeers of those soldiers, the cries of milling multitudes. But above this earthly dissonance sounds the Christian shout of triumph: “The Lord is risen.… The Lord is risen indeed!”

Christ’s Resurrection is “the pole star in the firmament of Christianity.” The bodily Resurrection and the Church’s commission stand together in the New Testament record. But more than a literary relationship joins Christ’s Resurrection and the Christian witness to the world. The saving events of the first century have historical continuity too. Most of all, their connection is theological. It is the momentous fact of Christ’s Resurrection, then, that underlies the Great Commission. The Christian message is preeminently just this ...

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