The Rector's Column

The Gospels are far from clear as to just what happened on the first Easter Day. Mary Magdalene seems to have been the first person to arrive at the tomb, but perhaps Mary the mother of James was with her, as well as another woman named Joanna. One of the accounts says that Peter and another disciple also came, but elsewhere we are told that the disciples weren't present and didn't believe the women's story when they heard it. In the tomb itself there were two white-clad figures, or perhaps just one; or there was a man Mary Magdalene thought at first was the gardener. There is no agreement even as to the role of Jesus himself. Did he appear at the tomb, or only later? Where? To whom did he appear, and what did he say, and what did he do?

To be honest, the story of the Resurrection is not really much of a story; and therein, of course, lies its power. It doesn't have the ring of great literature or great drama. It has the ring of great truth. If the Gospel writers had wanted to tell it in such a way as to convince the world that Jesus had indeed risen from the dead, they would presumably have told the story with all the skill and fanfare they could muster. Here there is no skill, no fanfare. They seem to be telling it simply the way it happened as they had witnessed it or heard about it. The narrative of the Resurrection is as fragmented, shadowy, and incomplete as is life itself. When it comes to just what happened, there can be no certainty. That something unimaginable happened, there can be no doubt.

He rose. We may not know the facts, but we know the truth: he rose. In the end, that is all we know, and all we need to know. If it is true, there is nothing left to say. If it is not true, there is nothing left to say. For believers and unbelievers both, life has never been the same again, and neither has death. What is left now is to realize that the great Easter truth is not that we are to live newly after death, but that we are to be here and now by the power of the Resurrection; not so much that we are to live forever as that we are to live holy and faithful live now because we are to live forever in the risen Christ.

He rose. That is what matters. He rose. May we rise with him this Easter Season to new lives, lives filled with his compassion, his grace, his peace, his presence, and his love.