The resurrection of Jesus is a mystery. Scientists, historians, churches, and individual believers wonder and sometimes debate: If we were standing there on Easter morning, looking inside the tomb, what would we have witnessed?
The varying Gospel accounts of Easter, both inside Holy Scripture and outside it, suggest that this wonder at this experience – as well as an uncertainty how to understand it – goes back to the very first followers of Jesus. Each of these Gospels understand it slightly differently.
Here in Acts 2, Peter describes his experience of resurrection. Jesus’ resurrection is not for him just a dead fact to be analyzed. It is a mystery that he experienced, which changed everything. The way Peter talks about it reminds me of one day when I watched the sunrise over the mountains. The whole mountainside began dim, beautiful yet stark, shrouded by night. Then as the sunlight began to break over the horizon and light – first in deep oranges and reds, than vibrant and clear – began to fall on everything. The same scene suddenly burst with color, with energy. Everything looked different.
This is what resurrection was for Peter. This experience beyond words of having the living presence of Jesus break forth in his life beyond all hope transformed everything. Now what looked like failure to Peter was seen as brimming with purpose. Now the failed prophet and national leader was revealed to be the coming into today of the new birth of all creation. He was seen to be of global, cosmic proportions – the living Christ. Now Scripture itself took on a different meaning. His whole life for Peter could not look the same.
Whatever we believe about the historic facts surrounding the varied accounts of Easter day, it is clear that these disciples truly experienced a life-changing transformation through the events they called resurrection. Not only Jesus’ body had been laid dead, but their hopes, their hearts, their lives as well. And each of them who experienced and embraced these experiences in which the living Christ burst forth beyond all hope had a sunrise appear over the mountains of their pain and confusion, so that their lives were never the same.
What have been your resurrection experiences?
For me, I think of many.
I think of when hurting and alone I first turned to prayer, and discovered a feeling of companionship that let me know I was not alone. I was seen. I was known. I need not be afraid.
I remember the moment, having been brought up in a legalistic, fear-based religion, when I first had the message of grace become real to me. I remember knowing deep in my heart that I did not need to be afraid – because I was enough. God would not have gone to the trouble of bothering with Jesus and his cross for me if I was someone to be forgotten or something to be thrown away.
I remember too my wonder to see Christ in the eyes of gay and lesbian people, whom the church I was raised in had told me were sinners, bound for hell… And discovering the liberating truth that there is not a person whom Christ does not reach out to or work through. God is no respecter of persons.
I could go on…
But I take this moment to meditate with gratitude to God for each moment and experience in which the living One broke through, and transformed my vision.
I invite you to share some of your own individual experiences of new life breaking into your own experience in ways that transform you and others.