Christ's Resurrection is Our Hope By Rev. Dr. Munther Isaac
The Resurrection Sunday
Christ’s Resurrection is Our Hope
1 Corinthians 15: 12-24
“And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith” (1 Corinthians 15:14).
This year, we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ from death in exceptional circumstances – in home quarantine and through technology. Out of our awareness and our eagerness to control the spread of this virus, we agreed, as churches, with the prevailing opinion and the government’s directives to celebrate Easter this way. However, the day will come when we will all survive this crisis, and will celebrate life again, and celebrate the resurrection together with a different taste and a new meaning!
These are exceptional circumstances in which almost the whole world is united in facing the same challenge. But in reality, the Coronavirus reminded us that there is no east and west, north and south, but we are all one humanity! Our concern is one and our interest is common. The problem is that masters of money and war ignored and forgot this reality – and so we lived under the logic of exploiting each other.
To this day, there are more than one 1,780,000 infected, and more than 108,000 deaths … and these numbers are this low due to the quarantine, otherwise it would have doubled.
Today, we find ourselves not only in a domestic quarantine, but also in a rational, intellectual, psychological, and spiritual one. I say rational or intellectual, because Coronavirus confused humanity and placed it in a philosophical and emotional pandemic, seeking answers to the meaning and logic of life. Is it possible that a virus that cannot be seen by the naked eye can close an entire world? Is it possible that medicine and science cannot find a cure for this disease? Can dreams be destroyed so quickly and so easily? Has the world finally realized the tragedy of investing in war and weapons instead of investing in and caring for humans?
I say a psychological quarantine because many people today are living in a quarantine of fear and anxiety from the unknown. We began to think of what will follow the Coronavirus and how we will manage – locally and globally. Difficult days may await us. Many people today are filled with failure and frustration. We are not used to such circumstances. We began to wonder about the priorities of our lives and to realize the importance of relationships and humans.
And I say a spiritual quarantine, because the Coronavirus reminded us of our limitations as human beings before God the Creator. Many people today seek answers, many out of fear resorted to God, and many out of anger blamed God and questioned the usefulness of religion and faith. Indeed, the Coronavirus has revealed to us our spiritual poorness in terms of the void that man lives in away from God, and even our moral poverty, especially with regard to values and principles, as it is still the weak who pays a higher price, even in front of Coronavirus.
Before all of this we say: Christ is risen! And I believe that in the resurrection there are answers to the suffering of our world today.
The resurrection of Christ is the foundation of our Christian faith. Yes, if Christ has not risen, our faith would be false, as the Apostle Paul said. We do not exaggerate if we say that if there was no resurrection, Christianity would not have existed! Resurrection is everything! Our faith without resurrection … again: is void!
Resurrection is the victory of Christ over death. In fact, in the resurrection, Christ mocked death and everything associated with death. Think with me of the power of death! Who can stop it? All the medicine of the world and all the technology of the world are used to put off death as long as possible. But in the end we cannot stop it. It surprises us from the unknown to kill our dreams. This is a fact that mankind has faced with the spread of the Coronavirus. Who can defeat death? Only Christ! He trampled down death by His death. He marched through the valley of the shadow of death and emerged from it alive and victorious.
Our Christian faith, then, is that the last word is not for death, but for life. Death does not have the last word! Coronavirus does not have the last word. So Paul shouted mockingly: “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?”
I will never forget the words of my teacher at the Faculty of Theology when he was dying. He fought cancer, and perhaps it’s better to say that cancer fought him for many years while my teacher Al suffered a lot, until the disease triumphed – or so we thought. At his funeral, words written by Al before his death to be read at his funeral were shared, in which he spoke of his experience of the power of Christ during the pain phase. He said in his speech what I will never forget: With Christ, I crossed the valley of the shadow of death, and He led me to the other side, the land of the living! The disease did not win. This is the power of the Resurrection. Without it, our pain will be meaningless, and this whole life will be meaningless.
Also, for the same reason we believe that the last word cannot be for evil, injustice, or extremism, nor for the control of power and the rich over the poor and the weak – I pray that Coronavirus will not make us forget the most difficult and harsh challenges facing our world today. If Christ remained in His grave, Caesar and Pilate would have won. Rome would be victorious. The Pharisees would have won. The Sharia, and extremism, the oppressors and those who take advantage of the poor would all have won. The racists and the tyrants would also have won. If Christ had remained in the grave, injustice would have triumphed over truth, evil over good, strength and sword over meekness and faith.
If Christ had remained in His grave a decomposing corpse, He would have buried with Him the ideals He called for, and they would have become mere unrealistic romantic teachings of a Palestinian teacher who lived in our land – nothing more. We wouldn’t have talked about the Kingdom of God among us today. But, Christ has risen, and His resurrection is the victory of life over death, good over evil, truth and righteousness over evil and injustice, and God’s Kingdom over all the kingdoms of the world! Neither death, nor extremism, nor Caesar and his soldiers were able to stand in the way of Christ.
Yes, Christ has risen. Death has no last word. The last word is not for death or injustice. Not for fear. Not for the occupier. Not for Caesar. Not for extremism and religiosity. Not for despair; but for life. So today we believe, because we believe in the Lord of the Resurrection, and in the God of justice, the God of love, that the logic of war, killing and extremism cannot have the last word in our land. We believe that justice is coming, and that victory is for our God. And because we believe in the Lord of the Resurrection, we believe that fear, weakness and death do not prevail in us.
Today we remember that because Christ has risen, we too can experience the same victory. The resurrection of Christ is our resurrection, for He rose and became the first of all who are dead, their first and guarantor. And because Christ has risen, we have hope, today and here.
The resurrection turned the scales: Peter, the fearful and coward, turned into a rebel and preacher of Christ and the kingdom … the mourners who wandered to the grave turned into resonators … the disciples’ sadness, failure, and frustration turned into joy and strength … Thomas, the skeptic turned into a believer … the soldier in his might in front of the cross turned into a confessor of the Son of God … as well as the religious Nicodemus. The persecuted extremist Saul turned to Paul the Messenger of Charity, who taught that love transcends everything … The resurrection turned everything upside down. It changed humans, and even history.
I pray that we, today and here, discover the power of the Resurrection in our lives! So we do not hide in the quarantine of fear, suspicion, and anxiety, nor do we hide in the quarantine of surrender to fate and despair. Christ is risen. Resurrection is our approach, our hope, and it is our motivation to act. Resurrection gives us hope and strength to rise, build, and change our reality. Resurrection removes despair from our dictionary, despair that paralyzes and frustrates man. Resurrection frees us from the chains of fear; the fear of death and the unknown. Fear of the tyrant. The resurrection urges us and even forces us not to accept the limitations of injustice and evil as a reality that will not change.
Finally, we say, the Resurrection reminds us and even assures us that the last word is for God, and that “salvation is in the Lord”, and that victory is for God, for life, for truth, and for love. Let us live together the power of the Resurrection in our lives today.
Christ is risen … He is risen indeed
Christ is risen … He is risen indeed
Christ is risen … He is risen indeed