Easter is a celebration of new life in Jesus. He’s not dead. Jesus is alive, risen indeed and going before us into Galilee and Antioch and Rome and Moundridge. But Easter isn’t just about new life in a general sense. It’s not about life-force, some zap of life to pizzazz up our dreary existence. It’s the life of Christ continuing among his church and his people, guiding them, empowering them, speaking to them.
In the gospels, we see Jesus’ resurrection life not just in the ways that the earliest disciples feel compelled to re-order their lives around his teachings (like Acts 2:42-47)–a moral life–but also in the ways Jesus speaks to his people. He calls Mary’s name outside the empty tomb (John 20:16). He tells Peter and Thomas and the sons of Zebedee where to drag up the deep fish (John 21:6). He tasks Peter with apostolic ministry (John 21:15-19) and the whole church with apostolic mission (Matthew 28:16-20). Jesus speaks and teaches (Acts 1:3). Jesus speaks and breaks bread with his people (Luke 24:36-49). Jesus speaks and walks with his people (Luke 24:13-35). Even beyond those first heady days when it seemed so obvious that all Death’s dark knotted evils were coming undone, Jesus keeps on showing up and speaking to his people (Acts 16:7 and 22:8). One of the preeminent signs of Jesus’ continued resurrection life is his speaking to his people.
I know, I know–it’s easy to get this wrong. A lot of half-baked scheming is passed off as Jesus told me to. But all real communication is filled with miscues and misunderstandings. Truly hearing another is always hard. It takes attentiveness and vulnerability. The same goes for truly hearing the voice of Jesus. Despite the dangers of hearing wrongly, it’s the constant witness of the church–from Peter to St. Francis to the mom next door hunched over a Bible and an early morning cup of coffee–that the risen Jesus keeps speaking.
The ways Jesus speaks to his people are varied. There are the tamer ways of being convicted by a word from the Scriptures or having a sudden leap of intuition. But there are also the scarier ways of hearing Jesus speak: dreams and visions and his voice. They’re the sort of thing we tend not to mention in polite company. Jesus shakes up our neat and tidy world–the world we’ve been passing as materialists in–with words like these. But why should this surprise us? If Jesus is alive like we say he is, shouldn’t he still be speaking like the gospels say he did?
I think so. I’ve sat with Jesus’ followers in their living rooms enough times to know that if you take the time to listen, people have stories of hearing Jesus’ voice.
So on this Easter, when we celebrate resurrection life, what’s Jesus speaking to you?
He is risen! And he is still speaking.