It is a common (and frankly very good) on Easter Sunday to explore the echos of a new creation being born with the raising of Jesus Christ (here is a great sermon by my co-pastor on this very idea. Here is another sermon by a friend on this idea). The Gospel of John has many callbacks to the book of Genesis found in the Resurrection story. Here are a few of the more obvious:
- It was the first day of the week (in the beginning)
- It was still dark (the light had not come yet)
- Jesus and Mary (man and woman) are in a garden
- Jesus is seen as a gardener (God as creator)
All of this, and much more in the story, points to the resurrection of Jesus marking the beginning of a new creation. If we are in a place where we long for a fresh start, a new beginning and a rebirth or renewal, then Easter as a new creation is Good News.
I would take a moment to point out that Genesis is not the only book that the Resurrection story in the Gospel of John echos. Looking at the same story, but through the eyes of Exodus, we can see Easter as a new liberation. Here are some (possible) overt connections:
- The whole story begins with the Passover feast (perhaps the most obvious connection)
- At the tomb, there are two angels, one at the head and one at the foot, of where Jesus was laid (similar to the arc of the covenant with two angels forming the seat of God)
- People bow down to enter the tomb (the High Priest would bow prior to entering the Holy of Holies)
- There was a thick curtain that marked off the Holy of Holies from the rest of the sanctuary space (not unlike a tome with a rock placed in front of it)
Of course there are the other connections of Jesus to Moses in other parts of the Gospel, but none more world changing than the connection that, like Moses, Jesus liberates us. While the story of Moses highlights the liberation from slavery, the story of Jesus highlights the liberation from slavery to sin and death.
Yes, the echos of Genesis are present and strong in the Easter story, but don't overlook the Exodus echos. Don't overlook the Good News that God is not only doing a "new thing" but is also working to liberate us from the "old thing". It is very difficult to live in the new when we hold onto the old (thus Jesus tells Mary not to hold onto him in the Easter story).