We say Jesus’ resurrection is good news. It wasn’t good news for the disciples on the first Easter. More like perplexing, bewildering news.
For others, it wasn’t perplexing, and it certainly wasn’t good. It was plain old bad news.
Early in Luke’s gospel, Herod is terrified that Jesus might be John the Baptist raised from the dead. Think of the reaction of the Jewish leaders, or Pilate, on the first Easter, as news of resurrection comes back to them. If Jesus is risen, God approves Him. And if God approves Jesus, God must be very displeased with the likes of Pilate and the chief priests.
Jesus’ resurrection is still the best news and the worst news. It’s the best news for those who share His cross. But for those who set up those crosses, a risen Jesus is something from a horror movie.
Jesus’ resurrection terrifies the rulers of this age because the church shares His resurrection power. As Rosenstock-Huessy put it, the church has died many times; but she doesn’t stay dead any more than Jesus did. Every time she rises, she scares every tinpot Pilate and Herod.
Peter Leithart is President of Theopolis Institute