The Easter Moment: Drawing Conclusions
Armed with historical clues, we can speculate on the moving drama that came to be called the Resurrection.
The God that this Jesus revealed was a God of infinite life, love, and forgiveness who called them to be new people. Yet now he was dead. This meant, they thought, that God had said an emphatic NO to all that Jesus was. Had his death not been agreed to by the high priests, the people who spoke for God? They had judged him to be blasphemous, to be guilty of claiming more than he could deliver. But how could this be? How could God say no to love, to life, to forgiveness, to wholeness--and still be God? That was their inner turmoil. Nothing fit together. Nothing made sense.
As the weeks and months passed into the fall, the most joyous of the Jewish Holy Days, Tabernacles, loomed. This harvest festival, celebrated in Jerusalem, was shaped by readings from the prophet Zechariah. These readings were as familiar to Jews as the Christmas story is to Christians. So these readings entered Simon's mind and his conversations as Tabernacles approached. It was Zechariah who had written, "Behold, your King comes lowly, riding upon a donkey." It was Zechariah who said, "The Shepherd King of Israel is betrayed for 30 pieces of silver" and who portrayed the whole city of Jerusalem as "looking on him whom they pierced," mourning for him as one mourns "an only son." It was Zechariah who had written that when the day of the Lord dawns, there will no longer be those who buy and sell animals in the Temple.
One night in the early fall, Simon and his mates had a particularly good catch. They were happy as they dragged the fish ashore. They built a fire, placed some of their catch on the grill, brought out the bread from the boat, and prepared to feast. As was his custom, Simon took the bread, said the ceremonial blessing, broke and distributed it. In his blessing, he likened the bread to Jesus' broken body. Both, he said, were meant to give life.
Then it happened. A light went on in Simon's head. It was as if the heavens opened and so did Simon's eyes, and Simon stared into the realm of God. There he saw Jesus as part of God's being and God's meaning. It was not delusional. Death could not destroy the one who made God known. "Death cannot contain him. I have seen the Lord!" was Simon's ecstatic exclamation. Then Simon opened the eyes of the others to what he saw. Each of them grasped this vision, experienced Jesus alive, and were themselves resurrected. That was Easter. It was both objective and subjective, but above all it was real.
I can get no closer than that. But that is close enough for me. Easter is real because God is real. Resurrection is real because God is not bound by mortality. Life beyond death is real because those of us who live inside God live beyond the boundaries of our own mortality.
There is always the possibility that we Christians are deluded--but I do not think so. I trust the God revealed to me by Jesus as the source of life, the source of love, and the ground of being--and I shall worship this God by living fully, loving wastefully, and daring to be all that I can be now and forever. When I do so, I will know the truth and power of the resurrection.