March 26, 2008

Resurrection Freedom

When he was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him.
Luke 24:30

Whereas the three years of Jesus' life we know about seem marked by arduous decisions and heavy crosses (Luke 9:51; Matthew 26:39), his post-resurrection life is striking in its utter lack of difficult choices for him to make.

In his final chapter, Luke portrays our risen Jesus in three different settings. In each one, gone are the moments of arduously choosing the way of the Father, of fighting off counter claims and callings, or of grappling with the option of another way besides the cross and Good Friday. In his astonishing new life, there is now only the kingdom's way. There is no more choice to make! His struggle is over. His decisions not to exploit his status but to empty himself for others have now been redeemed and exalted by the Father.

So it is then that at the unspeakable empty tomb, at the famed Emmaus meal, and at Bethany's poignant departure, Luke's emphasis subtly shifts from the now settled matter of Jesus to the new choices facing his followers. The Christ has come to the end of his many crossroads; his followers are just beginning to set out toward theirs.

I imagine that after the resurrection to come, we will find that the daily decision to worship God and not another will no longer be demanding, difficult, or freighted with consequence. Our choices will come easily in the ineffable light of God's glory (Revelation 21:22-27). We will pray as continually as we breathe. And the current plea of the Lord's prayer – that God's will be done on earth as it already is in heaven, God's space – will finally and fully be granted. Difficult choices are a fixture only of this passing age.

That our will and God's will be in sync—this is both the goal and the promise of God's coming time. And yet the New Testament is bold to believe that the fruits of that future can be accessed even now in Christ. St. Paul urges us, in light of the resurrection hope, to be "steadfast, immovable, always excelling in the work of the Lord, because you know that in the Lord your labor is not in vain." The resurrection to come takes the death out of our life-decisions even now (1 Corinthians 15:58).

He is risen! We will one day rise to bask in his glory. Even now we walk in newness and life. Thanks be to God for this first week of the Easter season.