Christ Lutheran Church - Marshfield, WI

Seven Stanzas at Easter

“Make no mistake: if He rose at all
it was as His body;
if the cells’ dissolution did not reverse, the molecules
reknit, the amino acids rekindle,
the Church will fall.” 

Christ is Risen!  He is Risen indeed!  Alleluia!

The following poem quoted above is titled, “Seven Stanzas at Easter,” written by John Updike.  The entire poem is beautiful, and I would recommend looking it up to read the whole thing.
The poem weaves through the importance of the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ.  The corpse of Jesus Christ that lay dead in the grave, started breathing again and pumping blood, feeling, thinking, and doing everything that you and I do.  Throughout the poem, John Updike shames those who try and minimize the resurrection, and shakes his head against those who would contend that it wasn’t Jesus Christ’s body that walked out the tomb, but perhaps his spirit or some such nonsense.

It is hard for a world to believe that a dead man got up again, after all, none of us have ever seen it!  But this poem hits home the point that Paul makes in 1 Corinthians 15:17,
“If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile, and you are still in your sins.  Then those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished.  If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.”

It is fair and right to say that the church bets it all on the resurrection.  As a theologian once wrote, “If Christ is raised, then nothing else in life matters.  If Christ is NOT raised, then nothing else in life matters.”  If Jesus is still dead, then the church will indeed fall, the gates of hell would conquer.

However, the grave is open, the stone of the tomb rolls over for the women and the disciples to peer inside to see that no body is in the grave.

This of course, on its own, draws many conclusions: theft, forgetfulness of where the tomb was, mutilation, etc. but none could be mistaken when the Lord Jesus Christ himself appears.  He forces Thomas to plunge his hands into the holes in his wrists and side.  He asks for a fish and eats it in front of his disciples.  “Touch me and see! It is I myself!   A spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have!”  Luke 24:39

St. Paul tells us that Jesus appears to over 500 at one time and that in Paul’s day many of those were still alive—"you could go ask these people yourself!” is what Paul is getting at.

The Church banks everything on this: We have a risen LORD.  Muhammed is dead. King David lie in a grave. Ghandi, Hitler, Washington, Buddha, they all lie in ashes.  All their accounts of life and their cherished spiritualities belong in the grave with them.  But Jesus Christ is alive, seated at the right hand of his Father, who has in his hands the keys of death itself!

Ultimately, the resurrection of Jesus Christ tells us what is coming: The resurrection of all flesh.  The coming consummation of the ages is approaching.  One day, your ashes and corpse will hear the trumpet sound blasting from the archangel, and your ears will hear the voice of Christ saying to you what he told Lazarus, “Lazarus COME OUT!” (John 11:43).

Like a plant that sprouts from a seed from the ground, so will your body sprout out.  Your lungs will be filled with the sweet smell of the new creation, your blood will pump full of adrenaline and you will feel the rush of dopamine as you see with your eyes undimmed the Risen Lord Christ himself.  Your feeble legs will move strong again, your muscles shall stride forth unwavering, and whatever we count as loss now in this present age shall be received back twofold even as Job himself was when he was restored.  (Job 42:10)

That is the high and upward call we are called to as Christ’s Church, his beloved Israel.  And to all this, we shout:

Christ is RISEN!
He is Risen Indeed!  Alleluia! Amen.

In Christ, the Risen Lord.
Pastor Andrew