The Orthodox Church believes in Christ’s real death and His actual resurrection. Resurrection, however, does not simply mean bodily resuscitation. Neither the Gospel nor the Church teaches that Jesus was lying dead and then was biologically revived and walked around in the same way that He did before He was killed. In a word, the Gospel does not say that the angel moved the stone from the tomb in order to let Jesus out. The angel moved the stone to reveal that Jesus was not there.
Jesus’ Resurrection is the bedrock of our faith. Why is the Resurrection important? Life no longer must end in eternal death! The joy we feel at Pascha—when heaven and earth touch, and time seems to fall away—is the joy of the Kingdom of God. When Christ comes again to raise the dead, His Church will experience this joy eternal.
(An aside: “according to the scriptures” reminds us that Christ’s death and resurrection had been foretold in the Old Testament scriptures. Ps. 16:10 reads, “For you do not give me up to Sheol, or let your faithful one see the Pit.” This verse is quoted by both St. Peter and St. Paul in the book of Acts, to show that Christ’s resurrection was a fulfillment of the scriptures.)
“In His resurrection Jesus is in a new and glorious form. He appears in different places immediately. He is difficult to recognize. He eats and drinks to show that He is not a ghost. He allows Himself to be touched. And yet He appears in the midst of disciples, ‘the doors being shut.’ And He ‘vanishes out of their sight.’ Christ indeed is risen, but His resurrected humanity is full of life and divinity. It is humanity in the new form of the eternal life of the Kingdom of God.” (Hopko, “Doctrine,” p. 104)
Try this: Talk with your students about Pascha. What is it that we celebrate at Pascha? How do we prepare for that? What does each child in the class love about Pascha, and why? How do we feel when it is Pascha? Is the joy of Pascha different from any other feeling of happiness? Why?