So much that gets said about Easter seems to focus on death, sacrifice and punishment. I swear, 364 days of the year, all I hear about is how Jesus “died for my sins”. Easter Sunday is, of couse, the 365th day. Then, my social media feed blows up with pictures of an empty tomb that have “He is risen!” plastered across them. But, now it’s Easter Monday and I won’t be seeing that stuff again until next year. Which is strange; you’d think the fact that Jesus, through his resurrection, had conquered death and the power of evil would be something Christians couldn’t shut up about. But, it isn’t and I can’t help but wonder why.
I think, in part, it’s because the whole thing a little strange. You and I both know if that story was told in any other context, we’d call bullshit. That, or think it was the plot of a new science-fiction series on Netflix. I mean, seriously, that whole coming back from the dead is just freaky. And, when you throw in all that atonement stuff on top of it? Well, that can be a bit much. Maybe some people don’t talk about it because it’s just too weird to process. So, they choose to ignore it.
Of course, there is another way to deal with it. A friend of mine who is wrestling with a lot of questions about his faith referred to the resurrection as something that “never happened”. While I won’t go quite that far, I will say I don’t think things played out the way we’ve been told. Was Jesus physically, bodily raised from the dead? Maybe, maybe not. I suppose it could have been a for-real, physical resurrection. It’s just as possible that the disciples experienced Jesus’ presence in the days after his death in a more spiritual way. But, does that really matter?
No, it doesn’t. Not for me, anyway. What does matter is that something happened on that morning. I say that because here it is 2000 years later and we’re still talking about it. Now, I’ll admit that, on some level, I have to believe something happened that day; otherwise, when it comes to my faith, things might get a little shaky. I suppose, then, the question becomes exactly what do I believe happened?
I believe that, in a small backwater part of the greatest empire the world had ever seen, an itinerant Jewish rabbi became the foremost practitioner of the extreme, unconditional love that is God anyone has seen before or since. Because of this, his actions and his teaching threatened the powers that be so much that they had him executed in the most demeaning way they possibly could, thinking this would discredit him and put an end to his blasphemy and sedition. But, it didn’t work out that way. Somehow, either physically or spiritually, he continued to influence and inspire his followers in such a way that they were able to carry on the work he started. In other words, Jesus’ message of unconditional love didn’t die on the cross. Because of that I know that that evil does not have the final say and that death is not the end. I know that love is all that matters and everything else is crap.