It happened at night, and nobody was watching. Sure, artists have tried to depict it, but I have to admit it’s not their most convincing work. Even to the witnesses, only the result was visible – Jesus in the flesh; He who was dead, now alive and among us. But even that is hard to capture, because sometimes his friends recognized Him (It is the Lord!), and sometimes they didn’t (Where have you taken him?). Once Risen, Christ was somehow the same as before, and somehow – we’re not sure how – very different. Even Blessed Fra Angelico showed the confusion of the ones who discovered the empty tomb, and the Risen Lord Himself as as-yet-unseen background. That’s the Resurrection.
|Fra Angelico shows that the Resurrection was confusing|
partly because of what the witnesses themselves saw -- and didn't see.
Traditional symbols of Easter point to something basic, something good and essential, but hard to capture on a greeting card: life itself. But those flowers and eggs and bunnies were not dead beforehand. Easter is about life where before there was only death; Easter is about the Resurrection.
There is nothing more final than death, nothing deader than dead. There is nothing to be done about it. Until death comes, we can still hope (for improvement); but once it does come, whether we deny it or accept it, we cannot change it. And it comes for us all.
Resurrection changes the unchangeable: this one was dead, and now he is not. Unlike Lazarus, or that kid in Iowa with stories of heaven, He will never again die. They were called backto life; Jesus moved forward, into something new and different, at the same time both familiar and unrecognizable. That’s hard to picture.
Resurrection is hard to get our brains around. Some folks give up, and put Easter in some more intelligible category: a ruse (they stole the body); a mistake (they didn’t quite kill him, and later he felt better); or a misrepresentation (they remembered him so vividly that it seemed to the community of disciples that he was alive and with them).
Resurrection is more attractive than eggs or flowers or colors or candy, because it is not only something very, very good, but it is that very good something precisely where beforehand, even to think of something good was completely impossible.
We know about improbable; maybe even about impossible. The most impossible thing we know is … ourselves. You or someone you know may be tempted to think, I am too rotten, too far gone, for anyone to be interested in me; I‘ve had too many chances, and blown them all; I have hurt someone too badly, or I’ve ignored God too long for Him even to have my current address! But are you more rotten, more distant than dead? I think not!
God has accomplished the most improbable thing ever in the Resurrection of His Son Jesus from the dead. And if He can do that, you and I know that He can do something for us – even for us. For if Christ is raised from the dead, then you and I can be raised – from wherever we are!
For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised. If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all men most to be pitied. But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep. (1 Corinthians 15:16-20)
Improbable, maybe; impossible? Not! Oh, we cannot say that this is something that we ourselves have accomplished, or ever hope to accomplish. But we can look to Him who knows us, and look to Him for mercy.
The Risen Christ Himself was somehow the same as before, and somehow – we’re not sure how – very different. Resurrection. Easter means even though somehow – we’re not sure how – we ourselves will look very different, it is possible that the resurrection of the dead will look like me; Easter means it is probable that the resurrection of the dead will look like you.
A blessed Easter to you all, and to your families, friends, and most beloved ones. Hats and dresses, flowers and eggs are good; even very good. But we are not in this for the chocolate, beloved brothers and sisters; we are in this for resurrection and life. Christ is risen from the dead; truly He is risen. Alleluia!