This Easter editorial was written by Burris Butler, CHRISTIAN STANDARD’s eighth editor. It first appeared in the April 20, 1946, issue of the magazine.
By Burris Butler
Now is Christ risen! This fact is more far-reaching in its implication than any other fact in history.
As to Jesus himself, it proved beyond the possibility of doubt all His claims to be the Messiah of Israel, the son of God, and the Saviour of the world. Through it He was vindicated at the bar of justice. His death alone of all who have died was by it proved to be an outrage against divine justice and at the same time the complete fulfillment of divine love. Through His resurrection “He ever liveth to make intercession” for us as He rules at the “right hand of the Majesty on high.”
His resurrection in fulfillment of divine promise gives us “a more sure word of prophecy” as the basis of our own hope that “he shall so come in like manner” as He ascended into heaven. His right and power to judge the world are proved by token of the same fact. His deity, His priesthood, His saviourhood, His return, His judgeship all hinge on the historical fact of His resurrection. Or to state it conversely for emphasis, if Jesus did not arise from the dead there is no Son of God, no authentic priesthood, no Saviour, no judge.
As to the individual Christian, the resurrection of Jesus provides the only adequate basis of faith and hope. If Jesus Christ is the Son of God, as is proved by His resurrection, our entrance into the Christian life and our continued communion with Him become the most blessed reality rather than an empty and foolish figure. Our sins died with Him on the cross, the old man was crucified; we are “buried with him through baptism unto death; that Like as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we also might walk in newness of life.”
Our new life in Christ is as different from our old life in sin as the life of Christ in His risen glory is different from His life of humiliation in the days of His flesh. Through the priestly ministry of intercession, the Christian is as close in his access to forgiveness, consolation, comfort, and power from the throne of grace as the unspoken prayer of the soul in need. Because of the resurrection of Christ and the consequent hope of his own resurrection, the Christian has a peace and serenity unknown to the world. His is not the vain hope of a Utopian society in this world, but, like Abraham, his ancestor in faith, he looks for “the city which hath the foundation whose builder and maker is God,” which John saw in the clearer light of revelation, “the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, make ready as a bride adorned for her husband.” The trials and suffering of life, and even death itself, are but transitory steps to that city. His greatest ambition is to reach that state where “we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.”
As for the world, the resurrection of Jesus means but one thing. It is the touchstone of destiny for all mankind. “What will you do with Jesus?” becomes life’s most burning question. Accept Him, obey Him, follow Him for eternal life. Reject Him and be lost forever. In the light of the resurrection of Jesus the philosophies of the world become the veriest vanity. “Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die” is sobered by the reflection that on the day after tomorrow we shall face the ever living righteous judge.
This is the rightful message of the church. “Now is Christ risen,” not in mystical experience, or in figure of speech, or in legendary accretion to the memories of early devotees, but in solemn historical fact. Because the world does not know, the world still acts as if it were not true. It makes all the difference in the world. Let’s preach it!
Burris Butler served as editor from 1944 to 1957.