Thank God for resurrection. No seriously. Thank God for it. For without resurrection then death has the final victory over our life and the final say on the end of our lives. Without resurrection we just… die. And nobody wants that, do they? On the other hand, thanks to God’s work in Christ we share in the promise of resurrection. We have that hope, that death does not have the final say for us, God has the final say. And God says, ‘Live!’
And so it is that in Christ we are already the living. Christ has already won the victory over death so we no longer need to fear death. The fear of death is a past tense thing. Oh, our physical bodies will pass away for certain but that isn’t the end of the story. We will be back, of this we are assured.
How can this be? How can we physically die and then come back to life? It makes no sense, does it? I’m always saying, and I mean it, that the laws of physics will not be denied. I love science and science things so how is it that death can be defeated? It should be the end of things but in Christ it is not. How can God do this? I think a better question is to ask who says God has to play by our physical laws? Or more accurately, God’s work on earth happens in part in a realm that we haven’t gotten around to understanding just yet. Part of God’s work happens in the things we can see and hear, like bees filling a crab apple tree with their buzzing. Part of God’s work happens in things we can’t see like in super colliders where very smart people send around unseen particles at just under the speed of light to see what they do when they run into each other. And another part of God’s work happens in ways that we just don’t understand and can’t prove.
Science likes to prove things to be believed. Faith is willing to believe things without proof. Would you believe they’re not mutually exclusive to one another? They seem so sometimes, I know. There are people who go to great efforts to create a dichotomy between the two, a division that is in this case false and also spends entirely too much time with one side trying to prove or disprove the other.
Because people want proof. People always want proof of this that and the other thing and very often people want proof when it comes to God things. We’ll believe almost anything on the internet but truly and fully believe in Christ’s resurrection? And I mean believe in Christ’s resurrection and victory over sin and death with every bit of our body, mind, and spirit kind of belief. The kind of belief in Christ’s resurrection that absolutely takes over and transforms our lives. When that comes up then we’re all like, “Not so fast here! We want some proof.” The trouble is, there is no tangible proof as such. There is only faith.
Which is better than proof, really. As I noted earlier, I love science. Science gives me a little bit of certainty about how the universe works. The really cool thing is that when science comes up with a new way of looking at things science says, “Hey, check this out! We have some new research that changes what we thought.” There was originally a thought that the sun, all the stars and all the other planets revolved around the earth. Copernicus came up with a new model that suggested otherwise, that the earth revolved around the sun. It wasn’t a popular idea initially but people eventually came around to it. Science is like that and I’m glad for it.
Faith, on the other hand, gives me the assurance of things hoped for. It isn’t a proof. It isn’t tangible. It’s just there. Well, it’s not always there. Like anyone else I have my moments of wavering faith. Most people do at one time or another and that’s okay. Things happen that make me wonder about God and Jesus and the Holy Spirit and what they’re all about. Sometimes I just get tired and think, “You’ve got to be kidding me.” But then, the Holy Spirit does what she does and my faith is back on track. I can’t explain it and I’ve given up trying. Because faith doesn’t require explanation or proof.
It’s a good thing for us that faith doesn’t require proof. If it did, the two women in today’s story would likely have reacted someone differently. They arrived at the tomb Jesus had been placed in expecting to take care of some burial details.
Instead… They found the stone rolled away. This is not good. They were perplexed by this.
Instead… The found the tomb empty. This is not good. They were perplexed by this.
Instead… Two men showed up wearing dazzling clothes. They were TERRIFIED by this.
What would your reaction be in that scenario? If you had just seen your friend betrayed; if you had just seen your mentor falsely accused and convicted; if you had just seen your Christ crucified, dead, and placed in the tomb, what’s your response if you show up to the tomb and the stone is rolled away? Are you bored? What’s your response if the tomb is empty? Are you ambivalent? Do you stand there saying ‘meh!’ when two men in dazzling clothes show up seemingly out of nowhere?
Or are you terrified like the women were terrified, throwing themselves on the ground?
Terrified seems like a reasonable response to something this unexpected, something this outrageous. They needed someone to ring a bell around the tomb to get there attention that something unexpected was happening. Instead, having no warning of what they were about to see, that had to rely on faith. Having no warning of what they were about to experience, they had to rely on trust. Faith and trust in the one who had given them hope.
They remembered his words.
They remembered that he said to love one another as he has loved us.
They remembered that he said this is his body, given for us and this is his blood, shed for us.
They remembered that he said that on the third day he would rise again.
They remembered his words. They remembered his words and they began to tell the story that we continue telling today. Christ the Lord is risen today and in his rising death no longer has its sting. Our hope lies not in what we can do to save our life but in what Christ has done, once and for always breaking the shackles of sin and death so that we are freed, freed to live as the people we were created to be. Freed to bring Christ’s love to life.
Christ the Lord is risen today! Alleluia! Alleluia!