When Jesus returned from death on Easter Morning, he caused a lot of confusion. For most of that day his former disciples didn’t know what to make of it, or who to believe. Come evening Jesus finally met up with a group of his followers and demonstrated that the unbelievable rumours of his return were indeed true.
With that fact established, Jesus’ next task was to unfold to them what it had all been for. They had been through a deep trauma, and that trauma had had a clear purpose. Now was the time for him to make that plain (as much as was possible with a group of confused and frightened people).
Most often, when we think about the meaning of Jesus’ resurrection, we think in terms of life after death. That is the obvious conclusion to come to. But that is not the part of it that Jesus saw as being most important. In both surviving accounts of that Easter evening meeting Jesus’ focus was on forgiveness. Luke reports him saying, “forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in [my] name to all nations.” John reports him saying, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven.” Forgiveness is the key to all that happened in those bewildering days of crucifixion and resurrection.
Christian people need to be Easter people. And the key to Easter is forgiveness. We carry on the work of Jesus, not so much by telling the story and persuading people of its truth, but by demonstrating forgiveness and promoting it in the world around us. We need to be campaigners for forgiveness, enthusiasts for forgiveness, champions for forgiveness.