Monday, April 6, 2009

The Demands of the Resurrection

This week's scriptures are Mark 16:1-12 Corinthians 15:12-26.

Two questions seem to be very important as we come to Easter. The first is "do you believe the resurrection took place?" and second "what does that mean for you?"

Mark's account is short...very short. In fact there seems to have been material added to his account to make up for just how short it is. Mark sees the resurrection as God's comment on the cross. Preaching professor Fred Craddock makes the point that, for Mark, "Easter did not eradicate, but vindicated Good Friday." In other words, Easter was God's way of saying that what Jesus was saying about what God was like, and how God felt about humankind....the very things that resulted in Jesus being crucified....was correct. Easter is God's way of saying that Jesus' claim that God cared for the poor, the sick, the imprisoned, the outcast was the truth about who God is.

This is one of the reasons that it is so important to Paul in the Corinthian scripture that the resurrection happened. This isn't some metaphoric expression that we use for "Jesus living on in the hearts of his followers" (though that is also true). Jesus was dead. Then God resurrected him. And it happened for a reason. He got up. He walked out of the tomb. He could be touched and felt.

Either it happened. Or it didn't. Jesus was dead...and came back to life.

We've already looked a little bit at what it means in a broad theological sense that Jesus came back to life. And we'll look at even closer on Sunday.

But the question has to become personal. What does it mean for me....for you...that God confirmed what Jesus did, what he said, who he was by bringing him back to life?

That God raised Jesus in affirmation of Jesus' message demands something of us. And what is demanded will be different for each of us. The demand will meet us at the point where Jesus' message and life most touches our own pain and struggle. Ask yourself: "where has the Gospel of Jesus most spoken to how God feels about, relates to, Then ask yourself: "what demand does that meeting make on how I live moving forward?"

God has affirmed that message and that demand in the resurrection.

It happens (as I once heard it said in a wonderful play, Christ in the Concrete City ) 'not as the plausable end of a religious story, but as God's act in the hideous situation.'

Christ is Risen. Christ is risen indeed. Christ has risen that we may rise. Death cannot hold us, no matter what form it takes. We belong to the One who's love caused Jesus to carry the cross, to die, to rise. Whatever the tomb you find yourself in; rise and follow him. Because of Jesus death cannot hold you.

"Soar we now where Christ has lead
"Following our exhalted Head
"Made like Him, like Him we rise
"Ours the cross, the grave, the skies"

See you Sunday,


Jeremy said...

I'm looking forward to hearing more of your thoughts on this, Stephen, and I think you bring up incredibly useful questions. I had an immediate reaction to them, but I want to dwell on it a bit.

I have to say that I find it reassuring that early Christians struggled with the resurrection as well and questioned it in (what I read to be) a hilariously and apt empirical level (judging from Paul's comments in 1 Corinthians). It seems like they were wanting proof, just as we do (how many history/discovery channel specials have been made on Jesus' tomb?). I mention this idea also because I think it relates to Stephen's questions in that this was a response - I'm just not sure what kind. Negative? Positive? Delaying? Honest?

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