Spiritual Sojourn : Christ's Resurrection: Celebration of Hope
'Now when it was late that same day, the first of the week, and the doors were shut, where the disciples were gathered together, for fear of the Jews,...
"Now when it was late that same day, the first of the week, and the doors were shut, where the disciples were gathered together, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in the midst, and said to them: Peace be with you�.." YV Ramakotaiah The word resurrection is derived from a Latin root resurgere which means 'to rise again.' This term is specially used for rising from the dead. This concept is first found in the Book of I Kings in the Old Testament in the two records of restoration of life by two prophets called Elijah and Elisha. Elijah was from the town of Tishbe in Gilead. He restored to life the son of a widow. Elijah prayed: "O Lord my God. This widow is letting me stay in her house. Will you do this bad thing to her? Will you cause her son to die?" Then Elijah lay on top of the boy three times. Then he prayed: "O Lord my God. Allow this boy to live again!" The Lord answered his prayer; and the boy began breathing again. He was alive. Prophet Elisha restored to life another dead boy, the son of a Shunammite woman. She went to Mount Carmel on new moon day, the first day of the Hebrew month. (There were special meetings on these days to worship God). On her request he went to her place and saw the body. He lay on the body of the child. Elisha put his mouth on the child's mouth. He put his eyes on the child's eyes. Elisha put his hands on the child's hands, and he stretched himself on top of the child. Then the child's body became warm. After a while the boy sneezed seven times and opened his eyes. This concept of rising from the dead is also used in the Book of Hosea to mean, figuratively, the nation's restoration from divine judgment to divine favour: Come, let's go back to the Lord. He hurt us, but he will heal us. He wounded us, but he will put bandage on us. After two days he will bring us back to life. He will raise us up on the third day. Then we can live before him. Let's learn from the Lord. Let's us try very hard to know the Lord. We know he is coming, like we know the dawn is coming. The Lord will come to us like the rain, like the spring rain that waters the ground. (Hosea 6: 1-3 Easy-to-Read Version) This belief was afterwards extended to include the bad as well as the righteous in the Book of Daniel; the one class to be consigned to eternal torture, the other to be blessed with eternal life: "Many, many people that are dead and buried (sleep in the dust) of the earth will wake up. Some of them will wake up to have life forever. But some will wake up to have shame and hate that continues forever." In the Christian doctrine no material identity is affirmed between the body laid in the grave and the body raised. What is unequivocally asserted is that the personality of which the identity is maintained will not be disembodied, but possess an organ of activity and communication described as spiritual because adapted to spiritual uses. The Christian doctrine of the resurrection of the dead is based on the belief that Christ rose from the dead on the third day. "On the third day he rose again from the dead." His disciples Peter, James and John, the two young men on the road to Emmaus, the little band of women who followed him, all who saw and talked with him during those wonderful 40 days---everything Jesus said and did during that time was to prove that he was alive. "Now when it was late that same day, the first of the week, and the doors were shut, where the disciples were gathered together, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in the midst, and said to them: Peace be with you�.." Even while Jesus was subjected to death as a man, he claimed the powerand authority to resurrect ---a power only God could have. Many people are heard asking, "If Jesus Christ is God, how could he resurrect himself?" This question can well be answered if such people try to understand what is said in the Gospel of John in the New Testament: "Destroy this temple and I will build it again in three days," said Jesus. The Jews answered: "People worked 46 years to build this temple (in Jerusalem)! Do you really believe you can build it again in three days?" But the temple Jesus meant was his body. After Jesus was raised from death, his followers remembered that Jesus had said this. So his followers believed the Scripture (Old Testament) about Jesus, and they believed the words Jesus said. Concerning his life Jesus said: "I have the right to give my life. And I have the right to get it back again. This is what the Father commanded me to do." The Jews, who were convinced that the prophecies of the Old Testament had been fulfilled in Jesus, then joined the Church. Their hearts were filled with joy that the centuries-long period of waiting had come to an end. At first it was difficult for them to accept what, for a Jew, was the humiliation of crucifixion; but once they realised the fact of the resurrection and ascension this difficulty melted away. They repented the past and had absolute faith and confidence in the future. And so they were baptised and then took part in the "breaking of the bread" and in prayers which Jesus had told them to do. So the replacement of old law by faith in Jesus and hope for the future mark the day of resurrection. Easter is the English name for the ecclesiastical festival commemorative of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The word is derived from the Anglo-Saxon Eastre, Eostre, the ancient Teutonic goddess of dawn and spring. It is also compared with the word east, the quarter of the sky in which the sun rises. Besides Anglo-Saxon reference, the word east has several origins such as Icelandic aust; Germanic osten; Latin aurora; Greek eos; and Sanskrit ushas means dawn. Celebrated generally in Christendom since the 2nd century AD, though for varying periods, Easter is a movable feast, and its occurrence governs the dates of the preceding Lent (period of 40 days before Easter, the weekdays of this period being devoted to fasting and penitence) and the festivals following it. Since the 8th century, Easter Day has been celebrated on the first Sunday after the first full moon, or after the 14th day of the moon, following March 31. In June 1928, a bill was passed by the House of Commons in England providing that Easter Day shall be the first Sunday after the second Saturday in April. Although passed, it would not come into force until the Home Secretary made an order. All nature may be considered as a symbol of the rising of man from the grave, and the signs used came from nature---the peacock, the phoenix, the pelican and the lion. The annual changing of the peacock's brilliant feathers and the belief that its flesh is incorruptible has made it a special subject to portray resurrection. The phoenix, which after death was supposed to rise again from its ashes, was one of the earlier symbols. The pelican became the sign of resurrection because it was supposed that it brought its young to life with its own blood. To recall Polycarp (AD 69-155), bishop of Smyrna, a disciple of apostle John, and one of the witnesses of the early Christian Church: "Now may the God and father of our Lord Jesus Christ , and the eternal high priest himself, the (son of) God, Jesus Christ, build you up in faith�.."