Shalom - The Way Things are Supposed to Be
Easter Sunday and the resurrection of Jesus is certainly about the great miracle of his bodily resurrection and how he secured our salvation, but it is about much more. Easter Sunday and the resurrection of Jesus is about the nature of reality itself and the transformation of the cosmos.
This story has been a long time in the making, all the way back to "the beginning" when God created the Heavens and the Earth. God declares all things good, each day, and then the creation of humanity as "very good." In those declarations God is making a a statement about the way things are supposed to be. All things are working properly and in harmony. The Hebrews had a word for this - shalom.
In his excellent book Not the Way It's Supposed to Be: A Breviary of Sin, Cornelius Plantinga Jr. defines shalom as "universal flourishing, wholeness, and delight." Plantinga says shalom is the way things are supposed to be. So when the harmony of creation was shattered by Adam and Eve, when the fall caused the pain of loss, suffering, and broken relationships, shalom was shattered, things were not supposed to be that way.
In many ways, that is a summary of human history, of the biblical story. The story goes toward hostility, pain, and suffering, a breaking of shalom, and God steps in with a promise: one day, He will send the Messiah, the Anointed One, the Christ, who will crush the head of the serpent although the serpent will bruise his heel (Gen. 3:15).
At each step along the way God is moving the story toward shalom. God calls Abraham and gives him the hope of a city built with foundations in Heaven. He calls Moses to lead the children of Israel out of bondage to freedom, Joshua to lead the children of Israel into the Promised Land, and David to be the king who brings peace.
That whole story is unfolding for us in the life of Jesus, as he is the one who promised us a future of hope; he is the prophet who taught the people about the coming great exodus through his cross, the leader who bring us to the promised land, and the king who ultimately brings peace and not a sword.
When Jesus shows up in the upper room on the evening of that first Easter Sunday, he doesn't show up to condemn the disciples for their failures or for abandoning him. Notice what he says: “Peace be with you” (John 20:19). And then again: “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you” (v. 21). Jesus shows up and brings shalom.
Jesus is bringing the whole story of redemption with him, and he is saying to the disciples - I have made all things right. I have put things back the way they are supposed to be. It will take time for it to work out through the church into the whole world, so I am sending you out as the Father sent me so you can go with shalom, so you can put things back to the way they are supposed to be.
On this Easter Sunday in 2020, as we have been sitting at home during this health crisis, do not forget that you are on a holy mission, a mission of peace - to put things back to right, to make things the way they are supposed to be. That starts where you are, at this moment, in your home, with those relationships. Then it moves out from there to others you come into contact with and can share this shalom, this peace.
This is the essence of the gospel...the good news that Jesus is making all things right.
And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” And he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment. The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son. -Revelation 21:5–7