The Good News of Easter
What are the
consequences of Easter?
St. Paul wrote: “If Christ has not been raised, our preaching is void of content and your faith is empty too. You are still in your sins and those who have fallen asleep in Christ are the deadest of the dead. If our hopes in Christ are limited to this life only, we are the most pitiable of men” (1 Corinthians 15:14-17,19).
But thanks be to God! He has raised Jesus from the dead. Everything has changed. Our sins have been pardoned. We have been reconciled with God and in Christ have become his sons and daughters. In this Spirit he has called us together as his people. The Pentecost chapter of the Acts of the Apostles describes the consequences of the resurrection and exaltation of Jesus under the following headings:
1. The gift of the Spirit and the reversal of all the curse of the Tower of BabelThe gift of the Spirit
“All were filled with the Spirit” (Acts 2:4). The keywords are “all” and “filled.” All in the upper room without exception received as much of God’s Spirit as they were able to receive. No one received only a little bit or a partial gift. There was an immediate transformation: frightened men and women who had assembled behind closed windows and locked doors threw open doors and windows and had an exuberant prayer meeting in the street. Their fears were gone, and their praise and exultation was such that the onlookers thought them drunk with wine (Acts 2:13,15).
They boldly proclaimed “the marvelous deeds God had accomplished” (Acts 2:11) and all those who had come together, “Jews of every nation under heaven” heard in their own native language what God had accomplished through Jesus (Acts 2:8-11). The book of Genesis comes to a climax in the story of human sinfulness by telling us that people in their pride attempted to build a tower into heaven in order to usurp God’s place. God dealt with their pride by confusing their language. The story depicts the ultimate result of sin: not only estrangement from God, but also estrangement from one another. Sin destroys communication and makes community impossible. But now, because of Easter, because of Jesus’ victory over sin, the gift of his Spirit undoes the curse of the Tower of Babel. Communication and communion are restored. In and through Jesus, community is once again possible in the Holy Spirit. Bringing together God’s people is the goal of the gift of the Spirit.
of God's redeemed people
Good news for
This is exactly what is happening in our midst. In so many different ways we see the exalted Lord and Messiah, Jesus, pour out his Spirit to raise up communities of disciples on mission in the church, to live out in their particular circumstances the Easter and Pentecost chapters of the book of Acts. To God's marvelous deeds there is only one response, which has a twofold process: to praise and thank God with exuberant alleluias and to make ourselves available for his mission.
[Fr. Herb Schneider, MA,
STL, STD, is professor of New Testament and dean of Loyola School of Theology
in the Philippines, author of five books on the New Testament and transformational
leadership, and a member of the International Executive Council of The
Sword of the Spirit].
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