Resurrection of the Lord

Jesus’ victory over the grave is remembered every Sunday during the year; that is why worship occurs on that day. The weeks between Easter and Pentecost mark an entire season to recollect and reflect upon resurrection within the calendar of Christianity. The readings of each week articulate specific ways of understanding how Jesus was raised from the dead, and to varying degrees they also relate his resurrection to how each believer can anticipate eternal life with God.

Easter Day itself, then, does not stand alone as a festival. It is the primary celebration of the year, but it functions as the entry into pondering and experiencing Jesus’ resurrection. For that reason, the early-morning visit to Jesus’ tomb is the focus of the day. In all the accounts in the Gospels, despite significant differences from one to another, the purpose of the narrative is to point Jesus’ followers from the place of burial and towards where he will be experienced as alive. Encounters with Jesus are promised in John 20:1-18, and the reality of those encounters features centrally in Acts’ record of the earliest preaching in Jesus’ name. The expectation that God can and will effect unanticipated redemption forms one basis of hope in the Resurrection, which the Scriptures of Israel support in existential (Psalm 118:1-2, 14-24) as well as collective and cosmic terms (Isaiah 65:17-25).

The First Reading
Acts 10:34-43
The Power of the Gospel for All Who Believe

The book of Acts portrays how the earliest preaching bore witness to Jesus’ resurrection and proclaimed the cleansing of sins for all people who believe. In recounting the message of God’s anointing of Jesus, Rock—Peter—begins with John’s immersion of repentance for the cleansing of sins, continues through Jesus’ ministry of healing and doing good, and culminates in the appearance of Jesus to the witnesses after his death. Here, Rock’s realization of God’s acceptance of all people augments the message in Jesus’ name first delivered to the people of Israel.

Rock—Peter—opened his mouth and said, “In truth, I understand that God is not one who shows favoritism, but in every nation, anyone who fears him and does righteousness is acceptable to him. In reference to the message that he sent to the people of Israel proclaiming peace through the Anointed Jesus––this one is Lord of all: you yourselves know what happened throughout all Judea, beginning from Galilee after the immersion of repentance for cleansing of sins  proclaimed by John. You know how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the holy Spirit and power––who then went around doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, because God was with him. So we are witnesses of all that he did in the region of the Judeans and in Jerusalem. The one they killed by hanging him on a tree—this one God raised on the third day and caused to appear, not to all the people, but to witnesses who had been chosen beforehand by God, to us who ate and drank with him after he arose from the dead. He commanded us to proclaim to the people and to testify that he is the one appointed by God to be judge of the living and the dead. To him all the prophets bear witness: all who believe in him receive cleansing from sins through his name.

or Isaiah 65:17-25
God’s Creation of an Ideal World

The book of Isaiah envisions a new and perfect world, in which there is no longer suffering and distress. In this world people experience long life and plenty. The book of Isaiah, however, notably envisions neither resurrection of the dead nor the eternal life of those now born.

  • 17. For now I am creating a new heaven and a new earth
    —those originally created will not be remembered
    nor come to mind.
  • 18. Even so, rejoice and be glad forever that I create,
    because now I am creating Jerusalem to be a joy and her people to be a delight.
  • 19. I will rejoice in Jerusalem and be glad in my people.
    Neither the sound of weeping nor a cry of distress will be heard there again.
  • 20. Never again will a suckling baby there live just a few days,
    or an old person not live out the fullness of days.
    For one who dies at a hundred will be thought of as a youth,
    and one who falls short of a hundred years will be considered cursed.
  • 21. They will build houses and dwell in them,
    and plant vineyards and consume their fruit.
  • 22. They will not build and another inhabit.
    They will not plant and another eat.
    For the days of my people will be like the days of a tree,
    and the work of their hands my chosen ones shall fully enjoy.
  • 23. They will not labor in vain and not give birth to alarm.
    For they are offspring blessed by the Lord,
    their descendants along with them.
  • 24. Even before they call out, I will answer.
    While they are yet talking, I will heed.

The Psalm
Psalm 118:1-2, 14-29
Thanksgiving for the Victory Brought About by God

This psalm of victory perhaps originally celebrated the Israelites’ return from the Babylonian exile. Though it does not in its Israelite context reflect an ideology of resurrection or eternal life, the psalmist’s declaration that “God did not hand me over to death” connects the passage perfectly to the central theme of the Easter season. The “horns of the altar” (verse 27) refers to horn-like projections at each corner of the Jerusalem Temple’s sacrificial altar. This feature of the altar is as required in the altar’s construction in Exodus 27:2.

  • 1. Give thanks to the Lord, for God is good:
    God’s steadfast love is eternal!
  • 2. Speak out, Israel!
    God’s steadfast love is eternal!
  • 14. Yah is my strength and my rescue;
    God has become my victory.
  • 15. A sound of joy and victory is in the tents of the righteous!
    The right arm of the Lord performed mighty acts;
  • 16. The right arm of God is exalted;
    The right arm of the Lord performed mighty acts.
  • 17. I did not die but live,
    and I will recount the acts of Yah!
  • 18. Yah has certainly chastened me,
    but God did not hand me over to death.
  • 19. Open for me the gates of the righteous;
    I shall enter them giving thanks to Yah.
  • 20. This is the Lord’s gate;
    only the righteous shall enter it.
  • 21. I thank you, for you have answered me;
    you have become my victory.
  • 22. The rock the builders rejected has become the cornerstone!
  • 23. This is from the Lord;
    it is extraordinary in our eyes.
  • 24. This is the day the Lord brought about;
    let us rejoice and celebrate on it.
  • 25. Please, Lord, rescue us!
    Please, Lord, cause us to prosper!
  • 26. May all who enter be blessed in the name of the Lord!
    We bless you all from the house of the Lord.
  • 27. The Lord is God and gives us light;
    tie up the festival offering with cords;
    bring it to the horns of the altar!
  • 28. You are my God, and I shall thank you;
    my God, and I shall exalt you.
  • 29. Give thanks to the Lord, for God is good:
    God’s steadfast love is eternal!

The Second Reading
1 Corinthians 15:19-26
Jesus’ Resurrection as the Promise of Cosmic Victory

Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians is part of an extensive correspondence with communities of believers in Corinth, written between 55 and 56 CE. In it Paul responds to specific questions and challenges they had conveyed to him. Jesus’ resurrection, and its relationship to the resurrection of believers, was one of the central issues. Paul devotes an entire chapter to how Jesus was raised from the dead, both quoting the earliest sources he knows and setting out his own views. In this passage, Paul expresses his theology of how Jesus corresponds to Adam: just as people follow Adam in death, the way to resurrection is opened to them by the Anointed. He is the “primal offering,” a term familiar to Paul and his audience as designating the first, promising sacrifices of springtime (Deuteronomy 26:10).

If we hope in the Anointed in this life only, we are the most pitiful of people! But now the Anointed has been raised from the dead, primal offering of those who sleep. For since death is through a person, resurrection of the dead is also through a person. Because just as in Adam all die, so also in the Anointed all shall be made alive. But each in proper order: the Anointed, primal offering, thereafter those of the Anointed in his arrival. Then, the conclusion: when he delivers over the Kingdom to God, that is to the Father, when he shall abolish all rule and all authority and power. Because it is necessary for him to reign until he puts all enemies under his feet. Death is the last enemy abolished.

or Acts 10:34-43
The Power of the Gospel for All Who Believe

The book of Acts portrays how the earliest preaching bore witness to Jesus’ resurrection and proclaimed the cleansing of sins for all people who believe. In recounting the message of God’s anointing of Jesus, Rock—Peter—begins with John’s immersion of repentance for the cleansing of sins, continues through Jesus’ ministry of healing and doing good, and culminates in the appearance of Jesus to the witnesses after his death. Here, Rock’s realization of God’s acceptance of all people augments the message in Jesus’ name first delivered to the people of Israel.

Rock—Peter—opened his mouth and said, “In truth, I understand that God is not one who shows favoritism, but in every nation, anyone who fears him and does righteousness is acceptable to him. In reference to the message that he sent to the people of Israel proclaiming peace through the Anointed Jesus––this one is Lord of all: you yourselves know what happened throughout all Judea, beginning from Galilee after the immersion of repentance for cleansing of sins  proclaimed by John. You know how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the holy Spirit and power––who then went around doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, because God was with him. So we are witnesses of all that he did in the region of the Judeans and in Jerusalem. The one they killed by hanging him on a tree—this one God raised on the third day and caused to appear, not to all the people, but to witnesses who had been chosen beforehand by God, to us who ate and drank with him after he arose from the dead. He commanded us to proclaim to the people and to testify that he is the one appointed by God to be judge of the living and the dead. To him all the prophets bear witness: all who believe in him receive cleansing from sins through his name.

The Gospel
John 20:1-18
“I Have Seen the Master”

The Gospel of John tells the Easter morning story with an emphasis on seeing and believing, as well as on the particular role of Mary Magdalene as a witness to the Resurrection. The account describes much activity in an almost frenetic scene of running, bending, turning, and weeping—all leading up to encounter! The experience of the empty tomb challenges familiar expectations and hierarchies, while Mary’s experience of the risen Lord becomes clear to her in the most familiar of all ways: when she hears him speak her name. With word of his impending ascension, he invites her and all his committed students to join the throng he leads to God: the Father they now fully share.

At the first opportunity after Sabbath, Mary Magdalene came early to the tomb—when still dark—and saw the stone taken from the tomb. She ran and came to Simon Rock—Peter—and to another committed student, whom Jesus loved. She said to them, “They have taken the Master from the tomb and we do not know where they have placed him.” So Rock went out, and the other student, and they came to the tomb. The two of them had been running together but the other student ran ahead more quickly than Peter, so he came first to the tomb. Bending down he saw the dressings laid out inside, though he did not enter. Then Simon Rock also came following him, and he entered into the tomb and perceived the dressings laid out and the kerchief, which had been upon his head, not laid with the dressings but bundled in a separate place. Only then did the other student, who had come first, enter into the tomb. He saw and believed, although they did not yet know the Scripture that he had to arise from the dead. So the students returned to their group. But Mary stood outside the tomb, weeping. While she wept, she bent down into the tomb and perceived two angels in white, sitting—one at the head and one at the feet—where the body of Jesus had lain. They said to her, “Woman, why do you weep?” She said to them, “They have taken my Master, and I do not know where they have placed him.” Having said this, she turned back and perceived Jesus standing, and she did not know that he was Jesus. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why do you weep? Whom do you seek?” Thinking he was the gardener, she said to him, “Master, if you have removed him, tell me where you laid him, and I will take him.” Jesus said to her, “Mary!” Turning again, she said to him in Aramaic, “Rabbouni” (which means, “Teacher”). Jesus said to her, “Do not touch me! I have not yet ascended to the Father. But proceed to my brothers and say to them, I ascend to my Father and your Father, and my God and your God.” Mary Magdalene came announcing to the committed students, “I have seen the Master,” and that he had said these things to her.

or Luke 24:1-12
The Empty Tomb

Luke’s Gospel focuses so intently on what was found (and not found) at the tomb of Jesus that the list of those present comes only late in the reading. Mary Magdalene heads the list, as in all the Gospels, but Luke’s depicts many more witnesses than other sources. The narrative describes the witnesses as entering the tomb and not finding Jesus’ body. The two heavenly men who appear do not refer to Galilee as the place where Jesus is to be encountered, as in Mark and Matthew’s Gospels; instead, Galilee is the location of Jesus during his mortal life. In the Gospel according to Luke, Jerusalem is where the risen Jesus is manifested, and Peter gives a preliminary sign of how palpable that presence will be.

On the first of the week, at dawn’s break, the women came to the tomb carrying the spices they had prepared. But they found that the stone had been rolled away from the tomb. They entered, yet did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were at a loss concerning this, look: two men stood by them in gleaming apparel. As the witnesses became fearful and inclined their faces to the ground, the men said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has been raised. Remember how he spoke to you when he was still in Galilee, that it was necessary for the Son of Man to be delivered over into the hands of sinful men and to be crucified and on the third day to arise!” Then they remembered his sayings, and returning from the tomb they reported all these things to the Eleven and all the rest. And they were the Magdalene, Mary, and Joanna and Mary of James and the rest of the women with them who said these things to the delegates. But these sayings seemed to them a fable, and they disbelieved. Yet Rock—Peter—arose, ran to the tomb, and bending down saw the dressings; he departed, marveling to himself, “What has happened?”

4 Replies to “Resurrection of the Lord”

  1. As with the Common English Bible, I am shaken by the difference in language between your translation and that with which I am more familiar (RSV/NRSV). I find myself paying more attention, so that’s a net gain. I wonder if we get so used to a translation that we stop listening and just let the words wash over us in a beautiful stream. One question: curious about the retention of the name Magdalene and the adoption of “Rock” to refer to Peter. Why not explain the former as well as the latter?

    1. Hi! Thank you for your comments and for your interest in this project. We will be reflecting on your suggestions and will take your experience of our translation to heart as we continue our work and revise what already has been posted. Thanks again!

  2. Several responses from the Young Adults group at St Thomas Episcopal Church in Columbus, GA:

    Acts: Rock-Peter is distracting.

    Psalm: HaShem would be much better than Yah. And is “eternal” as normally heard by Western Christians the best way to capture l’olam?
    I Cor: Works well.
    John: Simon Rock Peter…. way, way too much here. Also, “haptein” tends to mean more than merely “touch” but has more of a connotation of “grab/take hold of.” We know some translations went with touch, but we don’t think this is a helpful choice here.

    1. Hi, thanks again for your feedback and input. The translation team will continue considering the topics you’ve raised as we continue our work!

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