Dave Brisbin 4.4.21
Easter Sunday. What is the most important single thought to take away from this Easter? After all the Easters you’ve lived through, what single concept will bring you closer to the new life and fresh wind of Easter? We typically focus on the supernatural miracle of the resurrection, of course, but notice that the gospels don’t. They focus on the effect of the resurrection on Jesus’ closest friends. The gospel stories pick up after the resurrection has occurred offstage and follow Jesus’ friends through each of their experiences of resurrection, but not the resurrection itself. The gospels are telling us where to look with their own gaze, telling us what is important to see. And what they show us is that none of Jesus’ closest friends recognize him when they first see him again. They watched him die. They buried him. And regardless of their time with him or what he taught, they fully expected him to stay buried and stay dead. They, as we, see what we expect to see until something breaks the spell of our self-imposed limitations.

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For us, the resurrection is a huge supernatural occurrence as well as a huge theological truth. But in the gospels, it’s nothing huge or supernatural that breaks that spell and brings the truth of resurrection home to Jesus’ friends. Just the opposite. It’s the smallest, most intimate gestures and interactions—the tone of voice calling Mary’s name, the breaking of bread at the Emmaus table—small details seen and heard a thousand times break through to prove identity in the only way possible. In intimacy. We only really know someone when we’ve experienced them in the most intimate details, and Jesus’ friends had to re-experience that intimacy with him to prove his identity to themselves. It is the same with us. As long as resurrection remains huge and transcendent, it will remain distant, a thought in our heads. But the moment we begin to see the risen Lord in the most intimate details of every day life, we will realize, as Jesus’ friends slowly did, that life is motion, and we will never find our God among the dead, motionless thoughts in our heads. Only among the living. That’s us, the living. We will find our risen, living God in each face and embrace or not at all.

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