When Jesus walked out of his grave on that first Easter morning, it wasn’t just a resurrection.
It was an insurrection as well.
We tend to limit the implications of the resurrection as eternal and spiritual. Believers know it paved a path to heaven, but how did it transform the way we live life before that?
I contend that the resurrection (in addition to its eternal, spiritual implications) was an act of war against a particular empire (the Roman one), and every empire since — and it was a conflict that was short and lopsided. Spoiler alert: the empires, kingdoms of this world, and governmental authorities were totally annihilated.
It was not subterfuge. It was public, powerful, visible, and obvious. When Jesus walked out of his tomb, he declared once and for all who was boss.
When you think of the garden tomb, you likely don’t think of government oversight. The truth is, the tomb was sealed tightly and guarded at the request of the political elite(Matthew 27:66). Officials did not want the body of the man who claimed to be God to be stolen by his followers. What they could not defend against was the tomb being robbed from within.
This was an inside job.
The forces of government were puny by comparison. They didn’t stand a chance that morning. They haven’t stood a chance ever since.
In Revelation 19, a rare Easter Scripture reference to be sure, we meet a Warrior who is called “Faithful and True.” His robe is dipped in blood and he’s riding a white horse. In case anyone is missing the imagery, the author or Revelation comes right out and tells us the name of this great Warrior — “The Word of God.” Jesus, flanked by the armies of heaven, is set to do battle with the nations of the world. He will “rule them with an iron scepter” it is said. On his robe and on his thigh is this message, lest anyone be confused:
KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS
The funny thing about Revelation 19 is a battle never happens. “The Beast” is captured. All his cronies are killed by the sword coming out of the Warrior’s mouth. His cronies, according to Revelation 15, are the nations of the world.
There are plenty of people (smart, Jesus-loving people) who place the events of Revelation 19 at some point in the future. I am not one of those people. I believe Revelation is referring to the resurrection of Jesus from death. This victorious act is not forthcoming, it has already occurred. It was his victory over death which served as his victory over all.
But it was not just a resurrection.
It was an insurrection.
This King wasn’t just declaring that since he rose from dead we could too (Romans 6, 1 Corinthians 15). Instead, he was putting every other kingdom on notice. He is the King of Kings. He is the Lord of Lords. The sealed tombstones and wimpy guards are no match for him, nor are governmental powers, authorities, land boundaries, treaties, pacts, alliances, or constitutions. They are so insignificant by comparison.
So what now? What are citizens of these insignificant powers to do in response?
- Recognize the inferiority of your kingdom. Many limit the Easter event to an eternal future. But as we’ve already seen…Jesus wasn’t just defeating death, he was declaring war on everyone complicit in perpetuating cultures of death and brokenness and pain and oppression. He alone can fix this. Anyone else who claims they can do something, regardless of how skilled they may seem, is issuing a promise as fragile as the seal that was stamped on Jesus’ tomb. With a whisper the God of the Universe can overcome all the evil of broken, earthly kingdoms. He proved that much at approximately sunrise on the first Resurrection Day.
- Join the insurrection. If this is all true, then we should join the winning team. Not in a weak, half-hearted way that seeks to blend our allegiance to Jesus with additional allegiances to passing, broken kingdoms. The powers we so often pledge allegiance to are destined to fade. No government is immune. The Kingdom of God is forever, the resurrection declares. So why ally yourself with the losing squad? Join the insurrection — invisible yet powerful. Meek but mighty. Victorious, though massively misunderstood.
“Easter as an act of war” is a stunning choice of vocabulary for those who live in a culture that is comfortable embracing multiple kings. But alas, no matter our national, economic, social, or institutional alliances, there is only room in our hearts for one King.
That King walked out of his own grave.
It wasn’t just a resurrection.
It was an insurrection.
Easter was an act of war — a war that has not only been declared, but one that has already been waged and won.
May we lay down our arms and surrender to the Winner, the Champion, the Warrior who broke the seal of oppression and sealed our fate as eternally his.
And may we join the present insurrection so that more hearts might be captured for our King.