I liked Easter. Holy Week moves me deeply as we progress through the depths to the greatest joy possible: He is Risen!
Some of us made that statement our facebook status on Resurrection Sunday: Christ is risen! On one such site one person (who happens to be a profess or philosophy, but that is a detail) left a comment as a question: Why do we use that tense construction? Why not “He has risen”? Which is after all what those who were first at the grave heard and repeated. “He is not here. He has risen, just as he said he would.”
He is risen. A couple of years ago I took a grammar course at Providence (AL 2), a venture back into the classroom from the student’s viewpoint. As we approached Easter that year I asked the instructor the same question, since it has rattled around in my mind for many years. Her response: “Subject + verb + complement.” that is: he is the Risen One. Like saying the grass is green: He is risen.
So what? As I thought about it, the simple grammatical shift from “He has risen” (verb in the past tense) to “He is risen” (Risen as adjectival complement) means something important. “Risen” is not just something Jesus did one day two thousand or so years ago. Risen is who Jesus is. He changed reality at its core and brought new life into the centre of death.
When Paul says that we walk in newness of life (Romans 6:4), he expresses this new reality. The people who have walked in darkness have seen great light; they have moved from the realm of death into the realm of life. They – and we – walk in the resurrection.
He (subject) is (verb) Risen (complement). Reality is changed forever,