“He is Risen” were the first words my brother greeted me with when I saw him at church on Easter Sunday.
I had forgotten for a moment how to respond back, it had been so long since someone had said that phrase specifically to me. In the back of my mind I pictured the words “Risen Indeed”, it came from a faint memory from attending the Nazarene church as a child.
Then my brother reminded me of the code words shared by the original followers of the “The Way”. The first believers, who claimed Jesus Christ as Savior; risen from death — with the tomb left empty.
The People of the Way used to greet one another exchanging these words: “He is risen” and the other person would reply, “He is risen indeed…” It was a code between the people; a knowing signal of faith.
As my brother explained this, I began to remember hearing these words echo throughout my childhood as people at church passed by one another exchanging the age-old custom.
He is risen, audacious words of the first believers, He is risen indeed. This long-held practice captivates my imagination and grabs hold of my heart.
These ancient words communicated the revolutionary belief of Jesus rising up from death into life again. This transfer of a few words was essentially an affirmation of yes and hallelujah for the belief of Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ as son of God, and Jesus Christ as RISEN MESSIAH.
The People of the Way faced great persecution and opposition; they held these key words deeply and shared them amongst their brothers and sisters of faith… this was a time when believing that death had no victory over Jesus was a DANGEROUS belief to hold.
It is dangerous when our faith says: “Where oh death is your victory, where oh death is your sting” …
Because when we rise up and really grab a hold of that belief we recognize kingdom living: To live RIGHT NOW on earth as it is in heaven… It means, we live to love right now, we live to give right now, and we live to be the change we want to see…right now. Without fear of death, but rather joy of life now and life eternal.
We live to create beauty, on earth, just as love and life and value would be expressed in heaven. We live the now kind of hope. We live out the now kind of justice, your pain is our pain, when you hurt we hurt with you. When you rejoice we rejoice with you.
To defy deaths sting, is to claim a bravery like no other. This is dangerous living, because as followers of Jesus, we are beckoned to LOVE dangerously. Loving even when it hurts. Loving those who may stand behind things we don’t necessarily agree with. Loving people, not issues. Loving people, not politics… Loving people! Loving BEYOND THE LIMITS!
This kind of love looks like many different things to many different people in many different places with many different scenarios. We live this out in a myriad of ways in our local and global spheres of influence. What this looks like to me, will not neccesarily be the same as it looks to others, but we share the common rooted calling as People of the Way, that it is “for freedom that Christ has set us free!”
Anytime we fight for freedom through war and battle there will be pain and suffering and death. Death that clings and burdens that deepen. But with Christ we don’t have to fight for freedom, because it has already been freely given to us. Through Christ our burden is lifted. Thus we can carry the confidence which propels us forward as peacemakers, knowing that we are called for the making of beauty: the making of peace.
Every year we celebrate the ancient and mystic story of Jesus Christ rising from death. We celebrate because we are set free! A story so powerful that it permeates across the world thousands of years later. A belief passed down from generation to generation, as we the People of the Way, continue to this day, to carry on the practice and celebration of our Messiah!
So as a person of “The Way”, I will whisper to you with a knowing sense of joy, a camaraderie of credence held between us, “HE IS RISEN…” and I will hope to hear you say back to me, confirming that you are also a maverick follower of the wild freedom of Christ, “HE IS RISEN INDEED!”
– Jenny Rose Foster