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SERVE THE LORD WITH GLADNESS | Jesus’ resurrection is a medicine for the world’s ills

We need to proclaim the power of the risen Jesus more boldly and clearly to the world

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

Christ is risen!

The Gospel readings this week are full of eyewitness reports of encounters with the risen Jesus. The reports come from people who had no expectation of His resurrection and who gained no earthly advantage by bearing witness to it. More could be said about that, but I’ll save it for another time.

Each of us also, in some way, experiences the power of the risen Jesus. But here’s an interesting fact about the resurrection accounts: Several of those who encountered the risen Jesus didn’t, at first, know it was Him! Mary Magdalene “turned around and saw Jesus, but did not know it was Jesus” (John 20). With the disciples on the road to Emmaus, “Jesus Himself drew near and walked with them, but their eyes were prevented from recognizing Him” (Luke 24). When Peter and several disciples went fishing, “Jesus was standing on the shore; but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus” (John 21).

This also happens to us. Sometimes, even when we have an experience of the risen Jesus, we need help understanding our experience; our eyes, too, need to be opened. There’s much more to say about that, but I’ll save that for another time, too.

What I want to focus on this week is healing, starting from the healing of the man crippled from birth in Acts 3. That episode is so important that we hear about it four times this week!

Illness comes in many varieties. There’s the bodily illness of sickness — the obvious kind we see when Peter heals the crippled man. We also see Jesus and the apostles healing the intellectual illness of ignorance. We can readily come up with examples of emotional illnesses like anxiety and depression or illnesses of the soul like habitual sin.

But, of the many kinds of illness we experience, can we also diagnose a kind of cultural anxiety that seems to be growing these days?

Those who know the resurrection of Jesus and cultivate the discipline of staying with that knowledge experience a kind of peace that’s grounded in hope. We know that Jesus has conquered sin and death; and, in Him, we share that victory. But those who don’t know the resurrection of Jesus, or who refuse to believe or who don’t cultivate the discipline of staying with their knowledge of the resurrection are left to fight the powers of the world on their own. That leaves them anxious. And rightly so! Left to our own, we do not have the power to conquer the forces of sin and death.

Here’s a theory: The further our culture gets from a deep confession of the resurrection of Jesus, the more people experience this cultural anxiety. Paradoxically, the more they try to fight it on their own, the deeper the problem gets.

Our response to the growth of that cultural anxiety needs to be twofold. First, we need to deepen our own belief in the resurrection of Jesus and develop our understanding of the ways the risen Jesus encounters us in our daily life. Second, we need to proclaim the power of the risen Jesus more boldly and clearly — not to force people to believe, because that would be contrary to the nature of faith, but to offer them the medicine for the world’s ills.

Brothers and sisters: Christ is risen! And the resurrection of Jesus is a medicine for the world’s ills. Let’s share that good news and offer the world a peace that more and more eludes it.

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