Exminster Methodist Church, Main Road, Exminster EX6 8BT
Email firstname.lastname@example.org, Minister: Rev Ben Haslam, Telephone (01392) 256716
How do you see life? Do you see life as pure chance? Or, do you see it as a gift? If you see it as a gift, and I think all Christians should, then the resurrection will make a lot more sense to you. Not that you will necessarily understand how it happened better than anyone else, but that you will be more attuned to God’s work in the world.
Four writers left us an account of Jesus’ resurrection. These accounts, on their own, have convinced many people of the truth of Jesus’ resurrection. Why? Well, for starters, if the gospel writers had been making them up, they would be told very differently. For example, the first witnesses to the fact that Jesus was alive were women. Women, in that culture, were not seen as credible witnesses. So, the first witnesses to Jesus’ resurrection would have been men. The apostles are at first incredulous at what these women tell them. Which is how you or I would be. The gospel writers make no attempt to present the apostles as dynamic, spiritually aware future leaders of the Church. They are just recognisably human, as is everyone in the gospel accounts.
First century Jews believed in resurrection, but not like this. In that world, among those people, resurrection meant what God would do at the end of time, when God’s people would be given new bodies. There was no suggestion anywhere that resurrection would happen to one person ahead of everyone else. For our four gospel writers to mutate this tradition so randomly would have been odd in the extreme.
So, what those women, and Peter, and John, were witness to, all those years ago, was all part of the great story of salvation, of God intervening in history to rescue His people. At the same time, it was something startlingly, shockingly, new. In rising from death, Jesus had not just fixed one problem, or helped out one group of people, but grasped at its root the fundamental nettle of sin and human rebellion against God which, until then, was the normal backdrop to human life. After the resurrection, something different is possible, a different path has opened up and all are invited to take it. That path is the path to life, through faith in Jesus Christ. A life in which we are forgiven. A life in which the Spirit of God becomes available to us, God becomes an intimate companion, and Christ walks alongside us on our own life’s Emmaus road (see Luke 24.13-35).
The centuries following the Resurrection saw plague, war, persecutions and the rise and fall of Empires, but the church grew all the same. Only a faith founded on a living Saviour, only a faith founded on beliefs that were absolutely true and not a ‘metaphor’ – could have survived everything the early church endured. All of this gives us hope in our own new and bewildering situation – a faith founded on such an event as the Resurrection of Christ cannot founder and nor will it fail those who follow it. We know that because of the Resurrection, our Lord is with us now. Jesus’ resurrection began something which is not yet completed. We live in the ‘in-between times’; after the Resurrection and before the final and complete coming of God’s Kingdom, but we can learn to discern, and celebrate His presence with us at all times even in our broken and confusing world. If we truly become Resurrection people, we realise how much of life is pure gift, how the world is full of the presence of God, and the miraculous is always much closer to us than we think, despite our fallen world. We need though, to learn to live this truth, to be, in the oft-used phrase, ‘Easter people in a Good Friday world’. I wish you every blessing for Easter, and beyond,
God bless, Ben
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