Friday, January 05, 2007

The Quiet Resurrection

It occurred to me this morning that while the birth of Christ was heralded by angels and a star, the Resurrection--a much bigger deal--was quiet. The women came to the tomb and saw an angel sitting there. No songs. No star. Just a person speaking quietly.

When Jesus died, there was a huge storm, possibly an eclipse of the sun, as well as an earthquake. When He rose there was--nothing. No change in the weather. No righting of the Temple. In fact, Jesus didn't even present Himself to Pilate or to the Pharisees and Sadducees to demonstrate His power over Death.

Many arguments and disputes would have been forestalled, if He had. There would have been less room for doubt.

Perhaps that's why Jesus rose quietly and showed himself to those who already believed. In John 20:29, Jesus tell Thomas, "Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed." We are free to believe or not. Pilate had condemned a man he knew to be innocent for political expediency. Did he hear rumors that this man had risen from the dead? Did he dismiss the rumors? Or did he worry, in some secret corner of his soul, that these rumors may be true? Did some of the answers Jesus gave him begin to make sense?

Forty days later, Jesus was gone. Ten days after that, His Apostles and Disciples came out to the marketplace and began preaching--and everyone who heard them understood what they were saying: "Utterly amazed, they asked: 'Are not all these men who are speaking Galileans? Then how is it that each of us hears them in his own native language? Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome (both Jews and converts to Judaism), Cretans and Arabs—we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!' Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, 'What does this mean?'" (Acts 2:7-12).

And we are still asking "What does this mean?" some 2000 years later. The story of Jesus has "legs," despite the lack of publicity, despite the lack of verification by the government or by a religious authority or by a phenomenological expert.