He is not here: for he is risen, as he said
From the moment the risen One first appeared, it became clear to the women and disciples exactly who had died on the cross at Golgotha, and so who Jesus is. Only in the event of Easter does the birth, suffering and death of the Messiah make sense: if God raised Him from the dead, then Jesus is the Son of God, the Christ, the Redeemer of Israel, the Lord and the Saviour of all nations. If the Resurrection event is an eschatological one, then the risen One cannot be what He is only from the time of His resurrection: He must also have had the same identity in his suffering and death on the cross, in His proclamation and ministry, and in the whole of His life from the very beginning.
Raising from the dead is an eschatological act of God performed on Jesus, and it endorses and fulfils His messianic claim. The endorsement and fulfilment of Jesus’ claim are complementary: if we wish to confine ourselves to endorsement, ‘resurrection’ would be no more than an interpretative theological category for His death; and all that would remain would be a theology of the cross. If we were to concentrate solely on the fulfilment, the Easter Christ would supplant the crucified Jesus. But if the earthly Jesus is the Messiah and the Son of God, then Easter endorses and fulfils the whole.
The Resurrection is an eschatological event and the beginning of the new creation of all things. For that reason the astonishing fulfilment of Jesus messianic claim is stronger than the endorsement of His historical truth: “How much more...?” asks Paul, when he compares Christ’s death and His resurrection. How much more, indeed. No other single event in the history of humanity has transformed so many lives and inspired so much beauty and wonder. No other god or demigod has moved man to the creation of such sublime works of art: ‘the Lord who created must wish us to create, and employ our creation again in His service, which is already His service in creating.’ And still, 2000 years on, you may get a glimpse of the ecstasy, the rapture and the joy of the moment of Resurrection from those whose spirits have communed with the Living Christ. ‘From the heart: may it go to the heart’: