A few weeks after Easter, I am still chewing on it.
Christianity flies or falls on the foundation of Jesus Christ’s resurrection. As the apostle Paul wrote, ‘if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.’ I was raised in the Christian faith and embrace it wholeheartedly. But this Easter I began pondering the thought that I’ve only ever known Jesus post-resurrection. I’ve only ever known Jesus in his stone-rolling glory. I’ve only ever known him triumphant, victorious, interpreted. I’ve only ever understood his actions and teaching in light of his resurrection. This year’s Easter celebrations were no different than previous years except for the fact that this year, for the first time ever, I wondered if I would have had the courage to follow Jesus before he died.
Christians are typically confident in their proclamation of Jesus the champion. Rising from the dead takes some beating when it comes to proof of power. But it’s easier to believe with the evidence established. I don’t doubt the evidence of the resurrection and therefore I don’t doubt Jesus’s status as God and king. What I’ve been questioning lately is simply my courage to have followed Jesus before the Easter event.
Let’s face it, Jesus was a strange man. His ministry only really began when he was in his thirties, and when it did he made enemies as well as friends. He didn’t fit in with the religious crowd, stirred up trouble with the rich, and exposed people’s sins in broad daylight. Even his best friends didn’t understand him. Like a cure for cancer from a Krispy Kreme factory, people said of him, “Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?” Is it not reasonable to suppose that I, like others around him, might also have struggled to follow and believe?
The fact is, without the resurrection, we are just left wondering. The resurrection makes sense of it all: Jesus’ kindness, his sadness, his love, his joy, his power, his passions, his ill-fitting best-fitting cultural significance. It confirms that he was more than a man but also that he wasn’t a lunatic, that his life wasn’t just strange, it was divinely ordinary—a principled, purposeful, flesh and bone heaven-on-earthdom.
But I don’t imagine I’ll get to the bottom of it so thank goodness for Wondering Fair, where the invitation to both writers and readers is to wonder, explore and chew chew chew on it.
Happy Easter. Again.