These three words have changed the course of human history.
Christ is Risen!
From the time that Adam at the devil’s prompting chose to seek the means to become “like God”, mankind has lived in a world without hope. Through the fall, the place for which we were created by God was taken from us. Eating from the tree to become like God, Adam was forced to live in a place that would show him how unlike God he still was, for where there was warmth and joy and communion with God before, now there was hardship and toil and pain and suffering, and a seeking for God which would go unfulfilled.
And so by sin death entered into the world. And we became partakers of death, even though we were created to be partakers of eternal life. The recognition of this is present in every human soul. It is why we are so unsatisfied with life. There is an inherent understanding that there must be something better than this.
And indeed, there is. It took 4000 years for Christ to come to recall Adam. Within that time there was both joy and suffering in Israel, but there was no salvation, no visible path back to God and eternal life in His heavenly kingdom.
It is not until Jesus comes, until He teaches us the true meanings of the Scriptures, gives us commandments for living lives that are pleasing to God, showing us our need for repentance, showing us His Divine love for us in His openly forgiving the sins of those who come to Him with the request, from the cleansing of the lepers, to the healing of the blind and the lame. And ultimately, He showed us the full extent of that love as He restored the dead to life, especially the life of Lazarus, who was dead for four days.
In all of these things, God coming, putting on our flesh, and speaking to us and with us directly showed to us His plan for that salvation. He took on the death that Adam brought to all humanity, showing in Himself the fullness of His own humanity. He suffered with Adam and all of his descendants. He suffered for and with all who would be born from the time of Cain until the last person who will exit the womb before His return at His Second and Glorious Coming. St. John Chrysostom writes, “Are we only dying with the Master and are we only sharing in His sadness? Most of all, let me say that sharing the Master’s death is no sadness. Only wait a little and you shall see yourself sharing in His benefits. ‘For if we have died with Him,’ says St. Paul, ‘we believe that we shall also live together with Him.’ For in baptism there are both burial and resurrection together at the same time. He who is baptized puts off the old man, takes the new and rises up, just as Christ has arisen through the glory of the Father. Do you see how, again, St. Paul calls baptism a resurrection?”
We sing today, “As many as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ!” We come to take His precious Body and Blood into our very beings, transforming us so that we carry Him with us wherever and whenever we go.
Being baptized we are born again into His Resurrection. Being partakers of His Precious Body and Blood we are made to be partakers of that Divine Nature that Adam sought in Eden.
It is not only St. Paul who speaks to us this day, but also St. Peter, who tells us “You are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him Who called you out of darkness into His marvelous Light.” (1Pet 2:9)
So when we gather, as today, and as we will now for the next 40 days, we greet each other with the Royal Greeting—CHRIST IS RISEN! We speak it boldly, we proclaim what our God has done for us unapologetically, forcefully, so that others may come to see His victory in the faces of His people who still live in this fallen world bodily, but who are residents of the Heavenly Kingdom already in spirit.
We can do this because CHRIST IS RISEN! We can be brave, enduring all sorrow and suffering, for we know that it is temporal, and that means it is temporary. When we hold in our hearts and proclaim with our lips that CHRIST IS RISEN! , we lose the attachment to this life, and proclaim His victory—a victory that raises Adam from the fall, a victory that has emptied the tombs and decimated Hades, a victory that has changed the world, both for those who dwelt in the 4000 years before Christ, and those in the 2000 years after Him.
So let us proclaim with the utmost joy, CHRIST IS RISEN! to all that will hear.