For I handed on to you as of first importance what I in turn had received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, and that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. … Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. 1 Corinthians 15:3-5,9

The sky outside my window is low and grey. I can see snow misting the mountains. The glory of Easter weekend, warm and ripe with the promise of spring, has faded.

But the glory of the Resurrection has not.

“He is risen!” cried those first witnesses.

Three days before, the very same people had been crushed, broken, destroyed. The One they loved and had given their lives to, the One they thought was God’s Messiah, had been arrested, tortured, crucified, before their eyes. They ran like hunted rabbits, hid in whatever hole they could find, listening in shivering terror for the tramp of the Temple guard outside their locked doors. They had no hope, no faith, no future.

Then, came the miracle of miracles. Jesus stood before them—healed, whole, real. They saw Him, heard Him, touched Him. He assured them of God’s amazing promise: because He lived, they would, too. Death was defeated. Eternal life was real. He was the evidence.

So transformed were they that they ran back through the same streets through which Jesus had staggered to the cross, to the Temple where His enemies had plotted against Him, to those enemies, themselves. The rabbits had become lions, roaring in victory.

“He is risen, indeed!” they cried.  “We have seen Him! Say you’re sorry!”

Frightened in their turn, the Temple authorities arrested the witnesses, threated them, told them to be quiet.

“Do what you will,” they replied, “we cannot help telling what we have seen and heard.” (See Acts 4:5 ff.)

Nothing—not beating, not torture, not crucifixion, not burning, not even real lions—ever shut them down again. Two thousand years later, we Christians still believe their witness because it cost them everything to proclaim it.

The message of the Resurrection is the bedrock of our faith, the anchor of our hope that no one and nothing can rip away, (Hebrews 6:19), a message that has endured the church’s own flaws and failures, as well as everything the world has thrown at it for two thousand years.

It endures still.

So we Christians celebrate still, no matter what. We join with Paul, himself a witness and a proclaimer, to cry:

“Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!” 1 Corinthians 9:15

Amen.

First published in “Bozeman Daily Chronicle,” April 18, 2021