There are numerous pieces written during this season about Easter, the resurrection, and what it means to be a follower of Christ in the shadow of the resurrection. Christianity Today has a Bible Study that outlines a rather unique approach to the resurrected appearances of Christ.
When reading the brief overview of the material I began to ponder this thought. If Christ spoke of his own resurrection as the only “sign” Israel would receive (Matt 12:39) and made his intended conquering of death a proclamation to his intimate followers, why did everyone – and I think I really mean everyone – seem to not be in anticipation of that event but rather suspicious of the Christ when they encountered him? I suspect we could follow the train of thought posited by the author and see these encounters as rather innocent and human responses, ones we can all identify with, however there may be more at work here. Perhaps, they were not expecting his resurrection as a continuation and confirmation of his sonship, rather anticipating it as the inauguration of a new Kingdom.
No one, in any of the post-resurrection appearances (outside of the nearly 500 others for which there is no detail) recognizes the resurrected Christ without him saying a word or performing an action. There was nothing instantaneous about it. Does that mean anything? Is there an implication there about the disciples anticipation or even immediate expectation that the resurrection would or did take place? In a sense, it may be akin, to how some people may have responded to Lazarus’ resurrection from the dead. An account of the event we have, but reaction to that event seems conspicuously absent. N.T. Wright offers some thoughts on this whole thing in the book Jesus, the Final Days: What Really Happened, an excerpt is outlined here.
As I’ve witnessed in most churches I’ve ever attended, the Easter event is one that is keyed toward evangelism. Since many people who attend church may be doing so for the first time, Pasto’s feel compelled to present their message in such a way that it is not so much a testimony to the “event” of the resurrection as an almost apologetic moment, it becomes an evangelistic moment, when, even though the original witnesses struggled, the expectation is that first time hearers will somehow embrace the event as reality and respond. Wrong? I suspect not in the scheme of modern day evangelism. Wrong on other counts – perhaps.
I am planning to embrace this Easter season like I have done no other. My own thoughts and examination have lead me to rather certain conclusions about the resurrection that have stirred me in mind and soul.
“He is Risen? – He is Risen indeed!”
God Bless and Happy Easter to All.