söndag 16 april 2017

What does it mean that Jesus rose from the dead...if you think about it?

My grandmother told me many times of her visit to the Holy Land with my grandfather. Not a woman of emotion and drama I remember how she vividly told me of their visit to the "Garden Tomb" and how she turned around to leave and saw a sign above the opening that read "He is not here, he is risen"...and shivered with emotion of those heavy words in that place.

They are heavy words indeed because we don't really have a way of understanding them. To be sure, we understand the syntax, grammar and letters, but I don't think we truly feel what they mean. I mean, what does it mean that a man rose from the dead? It is not entirely clear by itself, besides being very cool.

I think that is the first thing we should do when we consider Easter Sunday. Simply consider how cool it is that a man rose from the dead. Not analyze it. Not study it. Not trying to figure it out...but simply stand in awe and realize how huge it is without any deeper thought.

Second, we should consider that the man had claimed to be God...but that immediately muddies the waters because it adds enormous complexity to our moment of awe and wonder. A resurrection in itself is a massive event to take in...how much more so if we add God to the mix?

Of course, who else but God can rise from the dead, right? Well, the Bible tells us of 8 people who were dead and came back to life. Some in the old testament and some in the new (my "favorite" is Eutychus, the guy who fell asleep because Paul preached too long, and too boring I guess, and fell out a window and died.). All in all, the resurrection of Jesus wasn't the first one and not the most dramatic one either. That price would go to Lazarus, whom Jesus raised to life so publically that the Pharisées decided to kill him again(!). Resurrections were rare, but not unheard of.

So why had my grandmother of few emotional outbursts become so taken with the words "He is not here, he is risen"?

There are many correct theological answers to that question.
That Jesus had claimed to be God and rising from the dead sort of proves that.
That Jesus raised himself without anybody raising him.
That Jesus coming back from the grave meant that nothing would ever be the same.

Lazarus never had any disciples. Never founded a church. Never became a king or a religious leader. Why not? Surely he had a lot to say to people who fear death and suffering and wonder if there is an afterlife, right?
Eutychus didn't get any followers either or start a movement.
Paul probably got resurrected (after he was left for dead when he was stoned) and didn't start a church have disciples (as a matter of fact, he chastised the Christians in Corinth for thinking along those ways).

I think the difference was that for Jesus the Resurrection became the capstone, the summary and the validation of everything he had ever said or done before it happened. It was as if people, i.e. the disciples, had heard him say and do many crazy cool things in the past, among them the craziest being that he was God himself, and that now, post-resurrection, that little coin dropped.
I don't think they thought he was actually God until they saw him alive and well that Sunday afternoon. Prophet? Sure. A man sent by God? Sure. The "servant" from the prophet Isaiah? Yep.

But God?

That didn't dawn on them until post-resurrection...and it dawned on them like the light of a million suns in the darkest of days. This guy is God? Wow! Surreal, but nice (to quote Notthing Hill).

I think you and I need a little time to get past our ideas and notions and "we know how this story goes" before we can comprehend it.

If then, after we consider the evidence (which is solid and clear) come to the conclusion that Jesus was and is in fact God...well, that should make a whole heck of an impact, shouldn't it? Kind of like what it did to my grandmother...make us shiver with an overwhelming emotion that God is Jesus and he is alive!




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