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Published Date: April 8, 2015

Published Date: April 8, 2015

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The Easter Effect

Every Easter, we celebrate a definitive victory. We experience the Easter effect—a boundless global freedom for a once enslaved and broken humanity. Easter represents personal newness, freedom from sin’s condemnation, guilt, shame, and inadequacy. Easter also grants collective freedom from the plight of humanity, to sin and die separated from God. Yet, the consequences of Easter extend beyond the triumph of salvation.

In light of Jesus’ example, Christians are grafted into a mission—to give voice to the silenced. In honor of his sacrifice on Easter Sunday, we are called to mobilize as one, moving beyond our individual redemption to a collective condemnation of oppression, domination, and injustice.

The ministry, death, and resurrection of Christ offered a searing challenge to worldly power. Jesus was no ally of privilege and no lover of godless power during his lifetime. He was the ultimate disrupter of false peace, a spiritual revolutionary in word, deed, and relationship.

Jesus befriended the Samaritan woman, a social outcast and a member of an inferior caste of people. He answered the plight of a bleeding woman who would have been ostracized due to cultural cleanliness standards. Jesus made his home among prostitutes, confirming their true value as daughters of God. In a society built on patriarchy, he chose women as trusted messengers of his resurrection. Jesus intentionally pursued oppressed women throughout his ministry. In doing so, he established two things:

  • The unshakeable worth of women as well as other marginalized groups
  • The call of every Christian to costly discipleship in which they serve the “least of these.”

Jesus’ counter-cultural ministry pulled at the strings of his own social fabric until they came loose. He rejected elitism and ethnocentrism to embrace the outsider.

In his book, Radical Reconciliation, Curtiss DeYoung writes, “The teaching and preaching of Jesus challenged the status quo of “religious and political power in his society” calling for a fundamental transvaluation of values, an exalting of the humble and a critique of the mighty” [1].

Jesus laid low those who stood on the backs of those around them. He denounced the trappings of power, standing shoulder to shoulder with the powerless.

Yet, Jesus was not the social revolutionary the Jews expected. He died at the hands of Rome, a military and political force that conquered and oppressed the Jewish people. Jews faced social, religious, and economic persecution as a result of Rome’s domination. Many Jewish zealots at the time looked to the coming of the Messiah as the catalyst of their liberation from Roman rule.

When Jesus was executed by the command of a Roman official, all hope for freedom from Rome was shattered.

Thankfully, the story was far from finished. Jesus rose from the dead, victorious over sin and death, as well as the power of Rome.

Satan could not beat him. Death could not hold him. Rome could not stand against him, with all its might and authority. The oppression of Rome was no match for true power. 

Jesus did not throw off the Roman government to give the Jews their independence in a literal sense. But, his resurrection was a triumph over worldly power, over human greed, blood lust, and thirst for control. Jesus rejected his right to power as the Lord of the universe. By giving himself over to death, he poured himself out completely for the sake of the human race.

Even then, Jesus did not hold his peace. He did not allow power, either the devil’s or the world’s, to have the final word over a beloved humanity created in the image of God. He delivered a blow to oppressive powers and systems all around the world.

By the authority of a Roman official, Jesus died. By his own authority, Jesus rose from the dead, upturning human frailty and sin. His resurrection is a bold rebellion—a triumph over political, military, and religious oppression. It is also a call to the world to recognize the limitations of domination of any kind.

Worldly power doesn’t win. Jesus does. Jesus opposes the oppression of all groups, including women. He proved it throughout his lifetime in his inclusion of women into his ministry and commission. He proved it in his death when he gave up his power for the sake of humanity. He proved it in his resurrection when worldly power failed to bring about his death.

Jesus’ death and resurrection is the channel by which the world was saved. When we accept the gift of salvation, we also accept a commission to live as Jesus did. Part of what it means to live a Christ-like life is to honor his example, to exalt the humble and critique those who dominate. In committing to a life that strives for authentic shalom, Christians also embrace a counter-cultural, Jesus-inspired way of life.

Easter and the gospel call have social implications. We are called to become advocates for the marginalized in the name of Christ. We are called to shake the foundations that devalue and cripple women as well as other oppressed groups.

The Easter message is a revolutionary one. When we understand the social and spiritual significance of Jesus’ resurrection in addition to its personal and collective impact, we open our eyes to a new mission field. Christians are called out on behalf of the oppressed. We are meant to mobilize in defense of the marginalized. Jesus welcomed as central those who were pressed to the periphery.

Easter is about the defeat of sin and the salvation of humanity. It’s also about what we do after that.

[1] Boesak, Allan, and Curtiss Paul DeYoung. Radical Reconciliation: Beyond Political Pietism and Christian Quietism. (Maryknoll, New York: Orbis Books, 2012), 46.