Christ Rising

Josh Radke

In the Bond movie, Skyfall, agent 007 is captured and forced into an audience with the story's villain (a deeply scarred, former MI6 field agent). During their exchange, the villain rattles off a series of terrorist acts he allegedly has committed as if recalling items on a shopping list. Refusing to give his opposition satisfaction, a sardonic Bond deadpans, "Well, everybody needs a hobby." The villain attempts to return Bond's impertinence with an off-hand inquiry about the master agent's hobby of choice. Bond's answer is succinct, defiant, and appropriate to his character: "Resurrection."

I love that matter-of-fact line from Daniel Craig's "James Bond"; it is one of my favorites from the character in the whole canon of films, and it reflects closely the Christian mindset. Along these lines, my pastor likes to refer to Christendom as an "Easter people." What does this mean? Consider these words from Jesus in the pivotal sixth chapter of St John's gospel: "And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day" (v. 40), as well as, "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day" (vv. 53-54).

Our LORD isn't waxing philosophical here; the reaction of revulsion by the people bears this out. Jesus is also not just referring to the eating and drinking of His Word through His person: He is directly and personally connecting the feasting on His Word to the physical resurrection we confess in the Creed--four times, between verses 39 and 54, Jesus refers to the physical resurrection He will bring. Four times in such a manner means our LORD urgently wants our attention. The immortality Jesus promises is not some vague form of a spiritual, utopian plane for phantoms. It is the soul and flesh, reunited as one and inseparable, on an actual day to come, for a tangible new creation that He will bring. There are examples of this in Scripture: the Nain widow's son, Jairus' daughter, Lazarus, and the people walking out of their graves on Good Friday, after the gruesome and ignoble death Christ paid for our sins and to undo the death-curse of the Fall. These are demonstrations of the Truth in Jesus' words.

Then on Easter, the victorious Lamb of God shows us the real deal: Himself. The opening verse of the popular medieval motet, Christus Resurgens, bears witness to this singular event in history: "Christ, rising again from the dead, dieth now no more. Death shall no more have dominion over him." Jesus' resurrection on Easter by our Father is the reason the church (quickly) adopted Sunday as the proper day to gather for the Divine Service. And what is the culmination of the Divine Service? Holy Communion. "Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day." The Lord's Supper provides us forgiveness of sins, and also remembrance and confidence in the sure promise of our resurrection, for the sake of Christ. Thus what is said and sung concerning Jesus' resurrection is also true for the resurrection that awaits each Christian.

So unlike Bond's semi-flippant remark, for the Christian, resurrection to life with the Triune God is no mere hobby. Our resurrection in Christ is part of God's essential Truth, given us to walk in daily by faith. Jesus' physical resurrection, as the first-fruits of our own (I Corinthians 15:20-23, Philippians 3:20-21), saturated the language of the early days of the persecuted New Testament church, and it should continue to do so: in the liturgy, and in our conversations with fellow Christians, family, friends, co-workers. Indeed, this Truth is hammered home nowhere more profoundly than when we often receive it through faith, and by each one of our senses, on the day that weekly commemorates the first Resurrection Day, and also points forward to the eternal Resurrection Day to come.

Josh Radke is deacon at Hope Lutheran Church in Bangor ME, and awaiting acceptance to Concordia Lutheran Theological Seminary--St. Catharines Ontario. He is also the author of the historical-fantasy novel, Stitched Crosses: Crusade.

Created: December 17th, 2015