"They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in they did not find the body. They were perplexed about this…" – Luke 24:2-3
And who wouldn’t be? The resurrection of the dead is beyond anything anyone had ever heard of before. The disciples had seen Christ crucified, they all knew he was dead when his body had been taken to a burial chamber, and the women were coming to do what had to be done, preparing the body for a proper burial. But the resurrection of Jesus catches everyone, even his closest followers, by surprise, even though he had specifically told them that this was going to take place. Why should WE be any less surprised or perplexed?
Anyone who has ever tried to explain their Christian belief to someone who doesn’t share those beliefs knows how difficult it is to try to "explain" the resurrection. Wise theologians have argued and made cases for almost two-thousand years, and still we don’t know how to articulate this most-central element of our faith. Yes, we can talk about cycles of life and things like "hakuna matata," but Jesus isn’t a tulip bulb – he is Savior of the world! – and dumbing this crucial event down isn’t going to help anyone. The death and resurrection of Jesus is yet another event that reminds us that ALL of this is about Love – God the Lover creating the universe, calling Sarah and Abraham, freeing the slaves, gathering a covenant people to model love, and becoming one of us. Jesus, the revealer of God’s love, reached out to all – the poor, the outcast, and those told they were not worthy of God’s love. Such love threatened the powerful. They nailed him to a cross. There God
showed the very heart of Love by bearing the sin and violence of humanity. On the cross Jesus revealed God’s will to love even unto death… and so Jesus died on the cross. Women wept, disciples deserted, earth trembled, all was dark, and the way of love seemed broken and defeated. Then God raised Jesus! Death was shattered, a new day dawned, and Love lived again. Alleluia! How did that happen? I don’t know; it’s beyond my ability to know.
When we near our death we will not cling to our good deeds, our points, or a triumphant self-confidence. We will instead remember our baptism and cling to a promise: "Nothing will separate us from God’s love in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 8:38-39). In this Love is our hope. Here is the power to make us new. Here is the power that ushers in a whole new creation. But it’s not so much a matter of H-O-W as it is W-H-O. This is God at work, as God is ALWAYS at work, showing what Love really does. And maybe that’s why we can’t "explain" the resurrection; we can only believe it and take part in it. But what helps others begin to understand the deep implications of resurrection is our love, the love that we show to others. See, Love has a special meaning in the Bible. Love is God’s unconditional and never-ending desire, work, and suffering for the good of humans and all creation. Love is God’s action to bring us into abundant life – reconciled to God, each other, and all creation… and loving as God loves. This is what it means to follow Christ in a life of love. Alleluia! Walking together with you in the Way of the Cross, + Pastor Tim