Here’s the rest of the story, and it’s probably different than what you’ve heard your whole life if you’ve ever attended church on Easter. What you’ve probably heard starts with “Jesus died for your sins.”
In this familiar context, the Jesus that routinely performed miracles while he was alive, miraculously came alive again three days after he died by crucifixion, the Roman method for implementing the death penalty.
You were told that his coming back to life is what Easter is about. That somewhere in the spiritual realm, his death and resurrection did something to permanently absolve you of your sins. Theologians and church people will argue and preach all day long as to what that something is.
But what if instead of theological debates, we looked at the actual story of what Jesus did, said, and asked?
After Jesus comes back to life, he reconnects with his initially disbelieving friends. He cooks them lunch. He tells them that what they’ve experienced with him during these past few years, he wants them to keep doing that work. He asks that they encourage others to do the same.
“Feed my sheep, tend my lambs.” Advocate for the dignity of the poor, the sick, the displaced, the LGBTQ community, all people of color, people of all religions, for women, for children. His goals are now our goals — justice for all. As his motivation was love, so should our motivation be love.
“You are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.” Embody what it would be like if God came to earth and lived among us. The work he did when he was alive brought visibility to the systemic injustices perpetuated by corrupt people in power. He did this by actively working with a diverse group of allies to relieve the suffering of those that had been marginalized and neglected. He also gave those same people a reason to live life to their fullest, despite the challenges that remain. He regularly spoke up directly against those he felt were responsible for these systemic injustices.
Jesus is alive. His story continues through anybody that embodies his work, his values, and his love. That is the way to everlasting life and that is good news.