He is risen! Does it matter? Okay, spoiler alert (in case you need it): the answer is yes. The four gospels all end with the empty tomb and the disciples telling themselves and others that Jesus is risen. Clearly Jesus’ resurrection matters. So maybe a better question is “WHY does it matter?” Or even better, “HOW does it matter?” We can talk about eternal life or life after death but the interesting thing is that as we read through the gospels, we read much more about life before death than after. That is, how we live our lives more than what happens after we die.
To help answer the question of “why” and “how” I want to look at Jesus after he is risen. In all the post-resurrection appearances of Jesus that we read about in the gospels, there is always a physicality to the stories — Jesus is not a ghost or just some spiritual being. Jesus, even in his resurrected state, is a physical being.
When Jesus meets Mary in the garden, she wants to hold onto him but he tells her no. [John 20:17] Later, Jesus meets his disciples in the upper room and although he can pass through a locked door, he still has the marks from the crucifixion and even invites Thomas to touch his scars. [John 20:19-25] After this, Jesus shares a meal with some of the disciples on the beach [John 21:9-14] and another two disciples in Emmaus [Luke 24:30]. Jesus was (and is) concerned about the physical aspect of our lives. Being a follower of Jesus is not just a spiritual exercise.
Of course all of this is consistent with the way Jesus lived his life before the crucifixion. He fed people, he healed people, he cared for people, even those who were not accepted by anyone else. Jesus expects no less from us. “Very truly, I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these, because I am going to the Father.” [John 14:12]. That is an incredible promise but it comes with responsibility. Because ‘He is risen’ there is much we can do AND there is much expected of us.