A FIRST LOOK AT THE RESURRECTION
During the time after Easter each one of us must surely have wondered what Resurrection means. How did the early Christians come to the conviction that Christ is Risen? What is the message of the Easter Story for me in 2010?
The Gospel that we read on Easter Sunday gives us much help with answering these questions.
As you read John 20: 1 – 10, I suggest that you pay close attention to the characters in the story. This may not be as simple as it seems. Read the text slowly, two or three times.
Mary of Magdala is the first to arrive on the scene. All alone? Well, not really. There were other women with her. In verse 3b we read, “and we don’t know where they have put him.” The “we” certainly suggests that she was not alone. Simon Peter is the next person to enter this story. “The other disciple (the one who Jesus loved)” plays the most prominent role. Finally in verse 10 we read, “The disciples then went home again.” These people seem to have been stunned by the events of that morning. Ask yourself, “Where am I?”
The only person who comes to an understanding of the Resurrection is “the other disciple”. Let’s not be too hard on everyone else. Ask yourself, “How would I have reacted in the circumstances?” A second question will challenge us further. “Why do I believe that Christ is risen from the dead?” I wonder how many of us have answered; “It says so in the Bible, or, that is what I have been taught, or, Christians have always believed this.” These are all good and valid answers. Perhaps another reason for our belief in the resurrection of Jesus is that I, personally, have experienced the Risen Christ living and active in my life and in my community. This was why the early Christians came to the conclusion that Jesus had risen from the dead. Look back over the years. I am sure you will soon recognize the hand of God in your life.
Jn 20: 1 – 10 highlights some aspects in the process of coming to belief in Jesus’ resurrection.
1. Every evangelist mentions that Jesus’ disciples came to their belief in his resurrection through reflecting on the scriptures. “9Till this moment they had failed to understand the teaching of scripture.” We do not know the texts they used. They may have used Is 52: 13. “My servant shall prosper; he shall be exalted and lifted up.” Another possibility is: “After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will raise us up, that we may live before him.” (Hosea 6: 2)
2. In John 20 it is “the other disciple, the one Jesus loved”, who is the first to believe that Jesus has risen from the dead. Mary Magdalene is next in verse 16. Often in the gospels we are told of the close relationship that existed between Jesus and these two disciples.
We too are challenged to enter into a deep relationship with Jesus. We are encouraged to spend time with the Word of God. For each of us this is a personal journey which we will accomplish in our own time. Be comforted, Peter and “the other disciples” who went home, also needed a little longer. We all need more time to come to grow in our understanding of the Risen Christ; to deepen our relationship with Jesus.
It is extra-ordinary that the early Christians came to the belief that Jesus had risen from the dead.
The evangelists wrote their accounts of the Resurrection with hindsight. They were writing with the benefit of what had taken place in their lives. They had experienced the Risen Christ, active and present in their own lives and in the life of their community.
How else could they explain the transformation that they saw taking place in the Christian Community. In Luke’s community, the unthinkable had happened. Jews and Gentiles came together in common worship and friendship.
Belief in the Risen Christ convinced Jesus followers of his Divinity. The Church teaches that “When Jesus rose from the dead, his divinity became manifest.”1
Paul confirms this. Jesus identity as Son of God was established through his resurrection.
Rom 1: 4
How has the Risen Christ touched my life? What convinces me that Christ is Risen? What can I do to help others come a deep conviction that Christ has Risen? How will I live this out in the days ahead?
We walk by faith and not by sight:
No gracious words we hear
Of him who spoke as none e’er spoke,
But we believe him near.2
1. Sancta Mater Ecclesia (10)
2. Celebration Hymnal no. 789