Back in Galilee, some time later, the disciples had dreams, visions, encounters that persuaded them that Jesus was alive, that God had taken this individual who mistakenly thought the dawn of the Kingdom of God was imminent, and had made him Lord of that very Kingdom, which was yet to dawn fully.John 21 gives us the kernel of the story as it might have happened with Peter and some of the other disciples. He went back to Galilee and went back to fishing. While there he had time to reflect on both the death of Jesus and on the meaning of his life. He was eventually able to see that Jesus was living still - in him and with him in as much as he carried on the work of Jesus. This is the only resurrection experience that matters.
That was Easter. When it occurred, and how it relates to the conviction that something monumental happened "on the third day", is hard to discern through the tensions and obscurities in the evidence.
Those experiences, rather than anything to do with the tomb, are at the heart of the Christian faith. While the events of the days that followed the crucifixion are shrouded in mystery and uncertainty, the Easter experiences continue to be part of human experience from then until today. And for those of us who have had such experiences, they do not prove anything about what happened to Jesus' body, or an empty tomb. But they do shine light on our existence, and the fact that we inhabit a universe where such experiences are possible fills us with awe, and wonder, and reverence. And it leads us to spend our lives seeking to do justice to the character of the universe and of human existence such experiences hint at.
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
James McGrath writes about the real Easter: