My brother once noted that contrary to the public expressions of jubilation at the Resurrection event, the Gospel accounts of the resurrection are pretty much subdued. There is more of a sense of astonishment, shock, and some might even say, disorientation, at the discovery of the Resurrection than celebration, jubilation or rejoicing.

I believe that this insight is basically correct when we get the tone andmood of the Gospel movement towards the Resurrection. The disciples have just betrayed and denied their Lord, and thereby a deep sense of guilt and shame, their hopes concerning the Kingdom of God and Israel has just been thwarted, causing them to sink into despair and depression. And suddenly in the midst of all this they suddenly realise that the Son of Man, whom they have betrayed, denied, in whom they have lost faith, has suddenly returned from the dead. Therefore the proper movement is that of struggling to make sense of this, what will their Lord do to them? What does it mean? Is it even true?

Therefore the central event immediately following the discovery of the Resurrection is Restoration, not yet rejoicing. Christ has first to assure his disciples that indeed he is risen, to restore their faith in him, that indeed all that he has said and taught have not been negated by his death. But most importantly, he had to restore his fallen disciples back into their office and work, which can especially be found at the Gospel of St John where St Peter despaired of his mission and went back to fishing, even after the discovery of the Resurrection, and it was necessary for the Risen Christ to have him lovingly restored back to his apostleship and to grant him pardon and assurance that his betrayal has not in the least diminished the calling and love of Christ for him.

Thus, I think the “rejoicing” and “jubilation” only comes later, after the Ascension and the Pentecost gifting of the Holy Spirit when Christ takes his royal seat at the right hand of the Father and when the Holy Spirit grants them the power to preach and advance the Kingdom of God in this world. Then will they rejoice and celebrate the Lordship and Reign of Christ over the world. But at the Easter Resurrection, in Lutheranese, the movement is from contrition to faith, not yet faith to new obedience or newness of life as yet.

I am therefore in essential agreement with the Western celebratory emphasis upon the Incarnation as opposed to the Resurrection, that Christmas is the time of rejoicing and celebration, with the choirs of angels appearing and glorifying God, for the desire of the nations, the long awaited prophecy, has at least been fulfilled in the appearance of the King on earth, while the Easter celebration is a much more subdued affair compared to the Eastern tradition which is sort of excessive in their “rejoicing” at Christ’s resurrection…

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