"Easter Morning" - Colin McCahon by Isla Huffadine

Chapel Matters

On Easter Sunday there is a tradition where someone greets you with the phrase, “Christ is risen!” And your response is: “He is risen indeed!”. It isn’t really known how this tradition came about, but in Luke’s Gospel we read that after the resurrection Jesus met with two followers on the road to Emmaus; this pair then told the other disciples and, in turn, were told that, “The Lord has risen indeed and appeared to Simon!” (24. 33-34). There is also the suggestion that Mary Magdalene – the first person to meet the risen Christ – supposedly exclaimed, “Christ is risen!” when she met with Emperor Tiberius in Rome. 

It is also a curious phrase because of the tense of the verb: it uses the present “is” with the past “risen”! This tense combination is not used very much, but it conveys a common tense in the Greek (the Perfect) which is used to describe something that has happened in the past but which has continued significance. Christ’s resurrection might have happened 2000 years ago, but it can give us hope and assurance for today. “Christ is risen!” “He is risen indeed!”