The death of Christ was a monumental event. As an Evangelical Protestant, I have often placed great emphasis upon this moment, almost to the detriment of another event. Easter came three days later, the moment that death was conquered. It is in the resurrection of Jesus that we can say along with St. Paul in I Corinthians,
O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?
Something that we don’t often dwell upon is the monumental event that occurred at the resurrection. It truly was an event that shook the foundations of the world, the powers of this world were conquered and the Kingdom of God began to be implemented. Now that that has occurred, we live in the tension of the now (kingdom of man) and the not yet (full realization of the Kingdom of God), in a state of waiting. While we live in a state of constant tension, it is important to realize two things. First, that we are empowered through the resurrection. We are given strength to live life today, if only we yield to the Spirit.
The second thing I realized was that our allegiance belongs elsewhere. If Jesus is Lord, as Christians of every denomination historically affirm, then Caesar is not. A recent editorial that I read in the Orange County Register captures this theme surprisingly well. The editor writes,
But if Jesus really rose from the dead after being duly executed, then he stands as a challenge not only to the Roman empire and the religious authorities of that day, but to every empire from the beginning of time down to the present day, to every mere human being who claims the right to rule over another human being, thus usurping the authority of God.
The resurrection brings power and an authority that is rooted only in the actions of Jesus. J. R. Daniel Kirk discusses this at length in his recent Christianity Today article. Our lives ought to be different because of the empty tomb. It is given power through the work of Jesus in an individual. Of course this power is not meant to be lorded over other people as many rulers have done and will do throughout the ages (Mark 10:42-43). Instead it comes through service and cruciformity in the image of Christ. It is in the complete message of the gospel, the death and resurrection of Jesus, that we can live as a transformed ambassador for the Kingdom. For if Jesus is Lord, then Caesar and ourselves are not.