Summer – 2002, my then three year old son was chatting with a neighbour in the van, and I wasn’t attending to the conversation until he drew me in, “Right, Mama?”
I’m sorry, right about what.
Sometimes airplanes fly into buildings.
Airplanes fly to airports or to fields or sea planes to water.
No, sometimes airplanes fly into buildings. I saw it.
Pause. He did. On September 11, 2001 he woke up before the rest of our overflowing home, so I let him watch a video to keep him quiet. When the video finished, I realized the images I had seen before the video and thought were a movie were still playing. I listened to the news; we watched and listened to the horror of 9-11 until I realized he didn’t need to watch. This reality made no sense. I had no framework, expectation, or understanding of the events; I couldn’t absorb the reality.
When he asked me 10 months later, the reality was still outside of my what planes do reality; not his.
Easter, in particular the resurrection, seems to me to be utterly unexpected, incomprehensible and reality shifting.
While Easter Saturday must have been the WORST day ever, resurrection day may still be the most confusing day in all of human history. Much of life is uncertain, but as Ben Franklin’s adage reminds us: the only two things we can be certain of are death and taxes.
Except Jesus’ resurrection turned that certainty upside down.
As I read the Gospels, the women who arrived at the tomb to put spices on the corpse and instead found a corpseless tomb and an angel, trembled and felt astonished, fearful, great joy. After running into the alive Jesus, holding onto his feet and worshipping Him, the women ran in their perplexed state to tell the disciples that Jesus wanted to meet them in Galilee.
The disciples who were mourning and weeping behind locked doors because of fear of the Jews (I’m guessing they hoped to avoid their own crucifixions.), did not believe the women, considered the announcement idle talk. (I hate being treated dismissively, and I bet these women did too.) Peter and John ran to the tomb. Interesting detail, the folded burial cloth and face cloth, convinced them Jesus was alive. Who would move a corpse and uncover it? They saw, they marvelled, and along the way headed to Galilee.
Rather brilliant to send the disciples into home territory where the fear of arrest, quicky trial, and crucifixion could diminish, and then Jesus visits all of the disciples. Jesus seems truly surprised, “Why are you troubled and why do doubts arise in your hearts?” (Luke 24:38)
Well, dead men don’t come into rooms.
So while the disciples disbelieved for joy and were marvelling, Jesus was asking for practical, human things – May I have something to eat?
Dead men aren’t hungry.
Disbelief, ghost fears, etc. could not explain the reality unfolding before them. Yes, these people were not the scholars of the day, but at least four of them were fisherman. They understood death. They had handled fish who had the life flow out. They understood that blood pouring out of your hands, feet, and sides led to death. This was a time when people lived closer to death. Women weren’t squeamish about taking spices to cover a dead body, just a part of living.
So when they decided Jesus was alive, it was as shocking and confusing for them as it would be for any of us. The disciples actions that followed (Luke 24:52) showed something radical had happened; they believed Jesus was risen:
- They worshipped Him
- They returned to Jerusalem
- They were continuously in the temple blessing God (no more fear of being arrested)
Butterflies’ changes or an egg are used as models of the resurrection, but both of these behave in expected ways; nothing about the resurrection seemed normative.
Prior to Christ’s resurrection humans had no framework, expectation, or understanding of the coming back to life, so it’s no surprise they couldn’t absorb the reality. Enoch walked with God and was no more; Christ had raised Lazarus. Jesus had tried to prepare and teach his disciples, but the resurrection was outside of their comprehension. The people hoped for a Messiah to overthrow Rome; overthrowing death wasn’t on the expectation/hope list.
It takes courage to live into a new reality even far simpler realities than resurrected teachers who have not come to politically save you but to radically change the whole world. Resurrection reality changed Jesus’ disciples lives, and it’s changing my life.
Confusion and transformation – Easter reality.