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We Are An Easter People

On Easter, it is good to remember that “the gospels don’t explain the Resurrection; rather, the Resurrection explains the gospels.” As this ancient formula suggests, the gospels do not attempt to

describe how the Resurrection happened. But if it hadn’t happened, the gospels would never have been written. C.S. Lewis explains it as follows in his book, Miracles. “In the earliest days of Christianity an ‘apostle’ was first and foremost a man who claimed to be an eyewitness of the Resurrection. Only a few days after the crucifixion when two candidates were nominated for the vacancy created by the treachery of Judas, their qualification was that they had known Jesus personally both before and after His death and could offer first hand evidence of the Resurrection. (Acts 2:32) A few days later, St. Peter, preaching the first Christian sermon, makes the same claim — “God raised Jesus, of which we all are witnesses.” (Acts 2:32) St. Paul bases his claim to apostleship

on the same ground — “Am I not an apostle? Have I not seen the Lord Jesus?” (1 Cor: 1:9) As this qualification suggests, to preach Christianity meant primarily to preach the Resurrection. The Resurrection is the central theme in every Christian sermon reported in the Acts. The Resurrection and its consequences were the ‘gospel’ or good news which the Christians brought: what we call gospels, the narratives of our Lord’s life and death, were composed later for the benefit of those who had already accepted Him. They were in no sense the basis of Christianity: they were written for those already converted. The miracle of the Resurrection comes first: the biography comes later as a comment on it. The first fact in the history of Christendom is a number of people who say they have seen the Resurrection. If they had died without making anyone else believe this ‘gospel’, no gospels would ever have been written.” Understanding this, we can better understand why we say

that ‘We are an Easter people’.


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