"The Lord is Risen."
"He is risen indeed!"
We say these words to each other as we walk into church, a habit, repeating liturgy on Easter day.
I remember the first time I realised that Jesus' resurrection was as important as his death. It was during a uni age Bible study and the leader asked if it mattered if Jesus had risen, or just that he died. I repeated something I had been told many times 'When Jesus died he took the punishment for my sin', and then added so technically it didn't matter that he rose again except to prove that Jesus was God? We debated it back and forth until the leader read out the verse
And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. 1 Corinthians 15:14-17
I then understood that it was important that Jesus rose again, but I was still a bit unsure as to why. I mean, I believe everything the Bible says, and it says it's important so it must be important. I kind of got that if Jesus didn't rise from he dead then where is the certainty that we will be alive again after death? But I still felt like I wasn't quite understanding something.
At church yesterday, Easter Sunday, our minister preached from this passage and it all clicked. I love when that happens, when God puts all the pieces together in your mind to help you understand.
When you wrong a friend of yours you need to go and say sorry. And your friend can then choose to say 'I forgive you, things are ok with us now' or they can say 'what you did was too big, our friendship is broken beyond repair'. You hope they will forgive you, but the act of saying sorry is not enough, they have to actually forgive you (and follow it up with actions) for the relationship to be restored.
When Jesus died, he was taking our sins on himself and saying 'sorry' for all the things we had done to hurt God. But the relationship wasn't fixed yet, it was only when God raised Jesus from the dead that God showed us he was saying 'You are forgiven, we are ok now.'
And so we can say with great delight 'The Lord is Risen!'; we are forgiven, we have a restored relationship with God now.
He is risen indeed!