Tomorrow is Easter Sunday, or as many Christians call it, Resurrection Sunday or Pascha, for the Western Christian Church. Considering the importance of the day, I wanted to share a reflection on what exactly this holy day should mean to Pentecostal and Charismatic Christians who care about peace and justice.
I have been looking at the passages related to the resurrection of Jesus in the Bible. There are some very important teachings that are of direct relevance to Pentecostal/Charismatic Christians. I have been meditating upon these passages, and I am really beginning to realize just how important they are, and just how central the resurrection is to Christianity (cf. 1 Cor. 15:14).
Honestly, there is so much that could be said about the resurrection. There is so much depth to what the Bible says on this point, and there are endless books and articles written by academics debating everything related to it. I am not going to go into too much depth here. I just want to bring attention to powerful points relating to Christ’s resurrection that are relevant to the PCPJ community.
Starting simply at the first gospel, Matthew 28 tells of the resurrection. It is a short chapter of only 20 verses, but there is a lot packed into this chapter. The point that I think really needs emphasized in this chapter is Jesus’ declaration right at the end:
And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen (Matthew 28:18-20).
Jesus faced death by crucifixion. He was executed publicly much the same way as a slave or a rebel. However, he has triumphed over all of this. “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.” Jesus is the supreme Lord of all creation. He is the King of kings and the Lord of lords. He is in power, and he has conquered sin and death. This is an amazing message as is, but as charismatics, we must recognize the importance of spiritual power, through which signs and wonders occur. This power not only refers to healings or other similar miracles; it refers to the Kingdom made manifest through all creation and the systems of the world. This power is manifested when nations proclaim peace or care for the poor.
In addition, Jesus tells us to “observe all things” he as commanded us. The Christian faith that Jesus proclaimed is not one of idleness in the face of unrighteousness and injustice. Jesus’ faith is one that is a faith of the Sermon on the Mount. It is a faith that loves its enemies and brings good news to the poor. In the resurrection, Jesus calls us to follow after his example in our individual contexts. It was this kind of faith that has continued to be embraced by the great revival movements of the world, including the early Pentecostals. Easter isn’t simply a message of how we are forgiven of our sins. Easter is a message of how God has ushered in his kingdom and calls us to live it out in order to transform this present world.
In Mark’s equivalent of this passage, we find additional teachings that are very significant to Christians in the Pentecostal/Charismatic tradition:
And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover. . .
And they went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following. Amen (Mark 16:17-18, 20).
Once again, we see the importance of signs. There is an active dimension of faith in Christ. Of particular importance to PCPJ’s mission is the sign of healing. Healthcare is an essential part of peace and justice, and Jesus lists it as one of the signs of the Spirit’s presence within a people.
In Luke’s and John’s versions of the events, there is less of an emphasis upon signs and doings, but there is an important message that is also found in the other gospels. In all four descriptions of the resurrection, the first evangelists were women. It is a group of women who discover the empty tomb, meet the resurrected Jesus, and preach the gospel of the resurrection to the other disciples. This is astounding considering the time, place, and culture of the day. It is a strong scriptural basis for an egalitarian understanding of ministry. It also happens to be that some of the greatest leaders in early Pentecostal/Charismatic movements were women (e.g. Lucy F. Farrow, Aimee Semple McPherson).
On Easter Sunday, God challenges human standards and expectations. From a purely human perspective, we are slaves to sin and death, but then the resurrection happens, and brakes those bands in sunder. In Easter, God has proclaimed his kingdom come and proclaims an activistic Christian faith of signs and wonders. Christ is risen. Hallelujah.
Pentecostals & Charismatics for Peace & Justice is a multicultural, gender inclusive, and ecumenical organization that promotes peace, justice, and reconciliation work among Pentecostal and Charismatic Christians around the world. If you like what we do, please join our Facebook forum, and sign up for our newsletter!