Over the weekend, a friend asked me a good question about the resurrection:
Why does it say “He is risen“? Shouldn’t it be “He has risen”?
Most modern translations actually use “He has risen” in places like Matt. 28:6. But “He is risen” still holds a central place in our Christian vocabulary. Just to cite two examples:
My guess was that either a) grammar has simply changed since the 17th century, or b) the present tense is expressing a present reality. Jesus Christ IS risen. The resurrection is not simply an event in the past that happened once, such as Caesar crossing the Rubicon. It is an ever-present reality. Even today, Christ is risen.
In one simple sense, Easter is not over. In the church calendar, we have seven full weeks of Easter, which is a much better feast than the one-and-done day that we’ve reduced it to. So, continue to celebrate Easter until Pentecost. More Peeps for everyone!
In another sense, though, Easter will never be over. The Lamb That Was Slain has risen, is risen, and already reigns. The resurrection is not simply a resuscitation or anything as weak-kneed as a “spiritual” rebirth that “lives in our hearts.” Jesus’ resurrection body is not the same as his body before death — for one thing, he can appear and disappear at will — but it’s not something less, either, such a shade or ghost.
By the way, the Rev. John Piderit, S. J., has written an interesting post for the Oxford University Press blog, of all places, that asks, “Could the resurrected Jesus have been filmed with an iPhone?”