Easter/Liturgical Seasons/My Faith 4 Ways to Spread the Word: Jesus Is Risen by Jay Martin From yelling hallelujah, to chocolate bunnies, to egg hunts, to reuniting with whatever you fasted from during Lent, Easter is easily one of my favorite times of the year. But to find the greatest gift of Easter, you’ll have to put down your basket and all that yummy, sugary stuff that fills you up (looking at you Peeps) and instead run to something empty- a tomb where the body of Jesus, the King of the Jews, was laid to rest. He Is Risen We celebrate the resurrection of Jesus loud and proud every Easter Sunday not only because it begins the most important liturgical time of the year, but because His resurrection is the BOOM SHAKA LAKA of our Christian faith and the most pivotal moment in human history. 1 Corinthians 15:14 says that “If Christ has not been raised, then empty is our preaching; empty, too, is your faith.” This is the classic “all-or-nothing” decision we have to make with Jesus. He either rose from the dead, or He didn’t; there’s no in-between. We either have to believe that He gave His life for us on the cross and then came back to life, or we have to cast off the whole resurrection story as bologna. The problem with that second part is that incredibly, there are plenty of logical reasons to believe that Jesus actually did rise from the dead. Jesus didn’t just tiptoe out of the tomb and play hide-and-go-seek first the kingdom of heaven; He rolled back that stone all the way and proceeded to make His resurrected presence known to hundreds over the next few weeks. The resurrection is the slam-dunk off the alley-oop that Jesus passed to Himself, the Hail Mary catch for a touchdown, one of those “That. Just. Happened” moments that altered the course of history forever. Jesus is alive Before I started to take my faith seriously, I often saw Jesus simply as the guy who died for our sins so that when I messed up, it wasn’t that big of a deal. But the more I encountered people who were on fire for their Christian faith, and the more I started going to daily Mass and youth group, the more I began to question this box I had put Jesus in. I was faced with the questions of, “If all Jesus did was die for me, then why didn’t the story end then and there? How are we still here worshipping Him today if His life just ended on the cross?” Those questions are answered on Easter Sunday, when we celebrate and proclaim His resurrection. Jesus is alive. He did so much more than just die for us; He went the extra step that only Jesus could take, and rose from the dead for us. If we truly and firmly believe in the miracle of Easter, then it’s imperative that we do more than just celebrate for one Sunday; go out and proclaim that He is risen! Proclaiming the Name There are plenty of reasons why it’s important to proclaim that Jesus is alive, but specifically the resurrection is a world-shaking event because it is confirming, conquering and continuing. The resurrection is confirming because it proved Jesus’ divinity. Up until His crucifixion, He had been bold and controversial in His teachings of who He really was and who had sent Him. As Jesus is hanging from the cross, people walk by shaking their heads and taunting Him, saying things like, “if you are the Son of God, come down from the cross.” But Jesus showed that He indeed was the Son of God and proved His divinity not in simply saving Himself from death on the cross, but by defeating death by living again. The resurrection is also conquering because of this defeat of death, as well as defeat of Satan. Romans 6:9 says, “We know that Christ, who was brought back to life, will never die again. Death no longer has any power over him.” Satan also has no power of Jesus, or over us, thanks to the resurrection. The devil fought savagely to overthrow the kingdom of heaven, and probably thought he had won on Good Friday. But instead of the cross and the tomb being a symbol of Jesus’ defeat, they became symbols of His triumph. Sin and death were conquered that day once and for all. Lastly, the resurrection of Jesus is continuing because He destroyed the notion that “You Only Live Once” (sorry Drake) and in doing so, opened the door for us to join Him in resurrection when He comes again. Jesus walking out of the tomb won back for us what was lost because of Adam’s sin in the garden. The How It’s important to understand not only why we should proclaim that Jesus is risen, but also how we should proclaim it. Easter is 50 days long and according to the USCCB, should be “celebrated in joy and exultation as one feast day.” We can’t simply leave the wonder and excitement of the resurrection on Easter Sunday and then pack it up along with all of the decorations; we must spread the joy and exultation of Easter and spread our hallelujahs far and wide, especially about something as awesome as our God rising from the dead. 1. Keep His commandments In John 14:15, Jesus is at the Last Supper telling His disciples, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” Imagine Easter as a sort of New Year’s for your faith, and a great opportunity to make resolutions to keep His commandments. In the renewal of our baptismal vows, we are refreshed and renewed in our journey to heaven. If this is something Jesus decided to tell His apostles right before He headed to Calvary, you better believe it’s important. It sounds straightforward, because it is: follow the Ten Commandments and in doing so, you will be proclaiming and glorifying our risen king’s name. 2. Jump into the sea In John 21, Simon and some of the other disciples decided to go fishing. At dawn, they see a guy standing on the shore, and eventually realize it’s Jesus. When Simon Peter realized Jesus was back from the dead, he was so excited that he jumped right into the water and swam to the shore. In your own life, when you see Jesus, jump into the sea and swim towards Him. When you have the opportunity to encounter God, rush to Him! Whether in your youth group, through adoration, or however you can get to Him; you are the one He hung from the cross for, and who He rolled away the stone for, so go to Him. 3. Don’t just stand there In Acts 1, Jesus is ready to go and ascends into heaven. His disciples were probably a bit unsure if He was leaving for good this time, because they’re still looking up when two men dressed in white appear next to them and say, “Men of Galilee, why are you standing there looking at the sky? This Jesus who has been taken up from you into heaven will return in the same way as you have seen him going into heaven.” The message is clear- what are you waiting for? Jesus made it clear to His disciples before He left that they would receive power when the Holy Spirit came upon them, and that He expected them to be His witnesses to the ends of the earth. Now that Jesus is risen, don’t just stand in front of the tomb looking around for Him; it’s time to go out and spread the word that He is alive and He is ready to enter into our hearts, and to prepare for the coming of the Holy Spirit. 4. Go Forth And so the fun begins! If we are to truly celebrate this Easter season as it is meant to be celebrated, we must spread the word of what has happened. The resurrection is too monumental of a moment to keep to ourselves. If one of your friends died and then showed up on your couch a few days later asking what they missed, wouldn’t you tell the world? Jesus being nailed to a cross spoke volumes about His love. The rolled-away stone and empty tomb strongly displayed His power. This Easter, let us join together in one, loud voice and proclaim the power of the resurrection, so that all may come to know that Jesus is alive.