The essence of Easter is: Jesus is victor! Jesus — is it not he who was born in humblest lowliness, who died on the cross crying the cry of a derelict of God, he who forgave sins but who collapsed under the burden of sin, he, the humble, smitten by his fate; and of all those laden with grief, is he not the most burdened man of Nazareth? And he is to be victor?
Yes, it is a difficult, a dark truth, a word that scarcely can be tolerated by our ears — that word “resurrection.” Not that it is hazy — its meaning is only too clear. It means what it says: something mighty, crystal-clear, complete. It signifies: That is the world, that is life, with its imprisonments and tragedies of sorrow and of sin, life with its doubts and unanswered questions, life with its grave-mounds and crosses for the dead: a unique enigma, so immense that all answers are silent before it.
Nothing, absolutely nothing, can one do who is fated to this life of sin and death, with its thousandfold festering needs; nothing can one do to amend it; nothing fills up this vacuum. Admit it; there is no way out! Unless it is the possibility of a miracle happening — no, not a miracle, but the miracle, the miracle of God — God’s incomprehensible, saving intervention and mercy, the all-inclusive renewal that leads from death to life that comes from him, God’s life-word, resurrection from the dead!
Resurrection — not progress, not evolution, not enlightenment, but a call from heaven to us: “Rise up! You are dead, but I will give you life.” That is what is proclaimed here, and it is the only way that the world can be saved. Take away this summons, and make something else of it, something smaller, less than the absolute ultimate, or less than the absolutely powerful, and you have taken away all, the unique, the last hope there is for us on earth.
Karl Barth from Come Holy Spirit: Sermons
Karl Barth (1886-1968) was one of the most important theologians of the 20th century. Some have even described him as a modern-day “church father.” From his home in Switzerland, he was a leading theological mind during the difficult years of World War II. Along with Dietrich Bonhoeffer, he was a principal voice in the German Confessing Church as they stood against the German Christians’ allegiance to Hitler and the Nazi party. His 14-volume Church Dogmatics is considered one of the greatest theological works of the Protestant church.