The greeting that went viral
In the early church, believers would greet each other (year-round) with these words: "He is risen," and the response, "He is risen, indeed." The resurrection of Jesus was such a pivotal point in history that it immediately changed the cultural greetings of large numbers of people. As centuries passed this greeting became less common or mostly centered around Easter Sunday. It is now known as a traditional Easter greeting officially called the Paschal Greeting and most Christians are familiar with it. But let's take a more in-depth look at its meaning on this special day.
We Christians believe that the Son of God is the central figure in history, his arrival set into motion events that would change the world. His teachings changed the hearts of wicked men and transformed them into loving disciples. The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the most pivotal event in history.
Without the resurrection, the bold words that Jesus spoke and the challenging teachings that confounded the religious leaders would have died out with a whimper. But because of the resurrection, Jesus' time on earth ended with a loud proclamation. His authority could no longer be questioned. He was who he said he was. Now people had to choose what they would do with the information. There is no doubt that people questioned the truth of these events. How could they not? Unless you were there, it is pretty hard to believe. But if you are willing to seek the truth. The evidence was there, and it is still available today. In 1 Corinthians 15, Paul states that Jesus appeared to 500+ people after his resurrection. He basically dares them to go talk to them and ask them if it is true. Paul did not fear or doubt the response of the witnesses because he had already seen the results of this historical moment. But it's 2020, and all of those witnesses have fallen asleep (died) as Paul would say. So, how do we know today that the resurrection is true? Well, in the same way, that Jesus changed his disciples, He continues to change people today. He has redeemed me. When I was younger, I spent all of my energies on my reputation and its advancement. As I have learned to abide in Christ and the power of his resurrection, I have seen the beginnings of a resurrection within my own life. As I put to death my selfish ambitions and sinful desires, I see something new arise in its place. Peace in times of trouble. Love for people who dislike me. Joy amid suffering. Could better proof of the resurrection be found? The power of the resurrection is still alive and making a difference today. None of these things could happen in my power. It is against my nature. But Jesus continues to do the impossible every day.
The Paschal greeting states, "He IS risen," not "He WAS resurrected." Words are important, and these words reveal something crucial to the understanding of the modern Christian. "He IS Risen," is a statement about the present, not the past. By saying, "He IS risen," we are proclaiming that the resurrection was not just a moment in history but the beginning of Jesus' reign.
He is still risen, and he is on the throne, redeeming and resurrecting those who love him. He is still at work, and if you look closely, you will see the evidence all around you. More evidence of the validity of the resurrection can be found in the lives of Jesus' disciples. When Jesus was arrested in the garden, almost all of the disciples ran in fear.
During his very public trial, they hid in corners and denied ever knowing him. They knew that being associated with Jesus was bad for their health. When the resurrection happened, they were together but still hiding. They returned to their old jobs and began dealing with the disappointment of having been scammed.
But after the resurrection, everything changed for his disciples. After they reached out and touched his nail-scarred hands and his pierced side, they cried out: "My Lord and MY GOD." He was no longer a teacher or even a prophet. They knew he was God, and their lives were changed. These same men who were fearing for their lives just days before began proclaiming the truth of the Gospel publicly. Even when they were threatened, thrown in jail, tortured, and eventually killed, they never stopped. Their dying breaths uttered the name of the Messiah. But Why? What would make someone do a complete 180? What could chase away cowardice and replace it with courage? I think you know. It was seeing Jesus murdered and then a few days later walking among them and teaching. They finally understood who he was. And Jesus said, "Because you have seen me, you have believed. Those who believe without seeing are blessed." That is you and me. We haven't seen it. But we have the testimony of the scriptures, we have historical accounts, and we have the Holy Spirit. So what will you do? What will you believe? In the Paschal greeting, after hearing, "He is Risen," the proper response is, "He is risen, INDEED!" This is a personal proclamation. It is an exclamation point. It is the way that a believer says, I know it is true. And like the disciples, I am willing to die for it. It's not enough to say that he is risen, we have to proclaim "indeed" with our actions, our lives and our choices just like the disciples did.
Everyone is going to be saying the Paschal greeting today, but before you say it yourself. Ask yourself, Do I really believe what I am saying? Is it going to make a difference in my life this year? Do I believe it enough to proclaim it? Even if it is unpopular, even if it gets me in trouble. Here is my answer: