The Scandal of Resurrection: A Reflection on Easter
Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here, He has risen! — Luke 24:5, New International Version (NIV)
Written by Kathy Maskell
It’s 2,000 years ago, and it’s the first day of the week. A trio of women huddle together for safety and comfort, the two supporting the mother wracked with grief between them. Her son, her beautiful, innocent son, had been wrongfully accused, abused, and executed as a criminal. Exhausted from the last few days of crying out for God’s justice, hiding for fear that the crowds and the guards would do the same to them as they did to him, they rush to the tomb to at least bring dignity to the dead.
But then: scandal! Her son’s body is missing! Two men, with clothes that shine like lightning declare: “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here, He has risen!” This. Changes. Everything. Just as Jesus had promised, everything just got turned upside-down. The Jesus Revolution didn’t end with his execution; it was just beginning!
The testimonies of these women are met with a wall of raised eyebrows, suspicion, and skepticism by the twelve disciples. In 2021, it can feel little has changed for the voices of the marginalized, the underclass, the “Other.” As a daughter of Vietnamese Buddhist refugees, I got captured by the scandal of the Jesus Revolution as a 17-year old. In a lot of ways, I came into the Christian faith kicking and screaming: this Jesus? He’s too weak! Too forgiving! His death too shameful! I was full of skepticism and suspicion. I wanted respect, I wanted to be empowered. And yet, there is something about the scandal of Jesus’ journey to the cross that disarmed me, just as it disarmed and then empowered that first wave of Jesus followers. What if the way of Jesus leads to power that brings the dead to life?
Just like the women at the empty tomb, so many of us have felt like we’ve been living underground, buried by the grief and losses of this past year, the cognitive dissonance between what should be and what our eyes have seen and hearts and bodies have endured, especially recently for the Asian American and Pacific Islander community. What the scandal of the Jesus story reveals is that in the journey from the cross to Resurrection Easter Sunday, we aren’t simply celebrating the fresh signs of spring or rebirth, although those themes are surely welcome.
It’s all the scandal of the cross, the revolution of love, led by a brown-skinned homeless refugee. He demonstrates resurrection power by re-centering it towards the margins. How does Jesus call us to respond to hate that kills? His body breaks, his blood poured out, for you, for me, for us. His resurrection empowers us, by the Holy Spirit, to pour ourselves out with unfailing kindness, with courageous solidarity that will never dismiss or ignore violence but will respond with hope and healing.
I join with millions of Christians all over the world to lift up our voices and use our bodies to declare the everlasting love, unfailing kindness, and resurrection power of the One who takes all the violence, grief, death, betrayal and evil unto himself. In Jesus, God reveals that his solution to hate, sin, and Death is not to abandon the world to itself, not to cancel and destroy it. Instead, Jesus walks out of the tomb and changes the ending. The violence, acrimony, and division in the world tell the story of a zero-sum game, a Universe built on the rules of fear and death.
Against that, Jesus calls people to join a revolution of love that resists exploitation, xenophobia, misogyny, racial injustice, predatory capitalism, and systemic poverty, and in the process re-creates the world. If Jesus’ resurrection is true, then the future hope of all the sick being healed, all the divisions being reconciled, all the world being made new begins to break in now. Easter is Resurrection Sunday – the day of new creation, where a different world becomes visible. And that is well worth celebrating this Easter 2021.
About Kathy Maskell | Kathy is the pastor of East Denver Vineyard, part of the Mile High Vineyard family of churches in the Denver metro area. She also leads the Vineyard Justice Network and serves on the Executive Board for Vineyard USA. Raised by Vietnamese Buddhist parents in San Diego, Kathy began her eastbound journey by first studying literature and poetry at the University of Chicago. While there, she got rocked by Jesus’s kindness and power. Kathy then pursued a teaching career, spanning from elementary to high school. Kathy earned an A.B. in English from the University of Chicago and an M.S. Ed from City College, CUNY.
While in New Haven, CT, Kathy worked as the U.S. Advocacy Director of Love146, a leading anti-trafficking organization, and co-planted Elm City Vineyard Church. Kathy’s M. Div. in systematic theology at Union Theological Seminary (NYC) focused on patristics, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the study of abolitionist movements, developing Biblical resources on justice and exploitation, and analyzing poverty as a root cause of human trafficking alongside leaders of poor-led organizations. She lives with her husband Caleb, son Josiah, and daughter Emmanuelle in Denver.