Resurrection

On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb.  They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus.  While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them.  In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead?  He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee:  The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’ ”  Then they remembered his words.

When they came back from the tomb, they told all these things to the Eleven and to all the others.  It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the others with them who told this to the apostles.  But they did not believe the women, because their words seemed to them like nonsense.  Peter, however, got up and ran to the tomb. Bending over, he saw the strips of linen lying by themselves, and he went away, wondering to himself what had happened.

–          Luke 24:1-12

 

“I am not referring simply to the first few hours, or the first few weeks of the Resurrection.  I am talking of this whole huge pattern of descent, down, down, and then up again.  What we ordinarily call the Resurrection being just, so to speak, the point at which it turns.  Think what that descent is.  The coming down, not only into humanity, but into those nine months which precede human birth, in which they tell us we all recapitulate strange pre-human, sub-human forms of life, and going lower still into being a corpse, a thing which, if this ascending movement had not begun, would presently have passed out of the organic altogether, and gone back into the inorganic, as all corpses do.  One has a picture of someone going right down and dredging the sea bottom.  One has a picture of a strong man trying to lift a very big, complicated burden.  He stoops down and gets himself right under it so that he himself disappears; and then he straightens his back and moves off with the whole thing swaying on his shoulders.  Or else one has the picture of a diver, stripping off garment after garment, making himself naked, and then flashing for a moment in the air, and then down through the green, and warm, and sunlit water to the pitch black, cold, freezing water, down into the mud and slime, then up again, his lungs almost bursting, back again to the green and warm and sunlit water, and then at last out into the sunshine, holding in his hand the dripping thing he went down to get.  This thing is human nature; but, associated with it, all nature, the new universe.”

–          C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

 

If you had to read the C. S. Lewis quote more than once, you are in good company.  I think I finally figured it out.

 

Before we go any further, Happy Easter.  I hope that you have had a wonderful celebration of our risen Lord.

 

He is risen.

 

He is risen indeed.

 

Funny that Peter had not figured that out when he saw the empty tomb and the grave clothes.  The women remembered Jesus’ teachings after the ‘angels’ reminded them, but the men-folk couldn’t believe what they were hearing.  They say that ‘seeing is believing,’ but after Peter saw, he was still clueless.

 

In John’s gospel, the unnamed disciple (John) went with Peter and ‘believed’ yet he admitted he had not put all the pieces together.

 

The disciples had seen Jesus raise a young girl back to life, a widow’s son, and Lazarus.  They had seen resurrection, but from the hands of Jesus.  Now Jesus was dead.  Don’t you give up your ability to do anything once you are dead?  Obviously not.  Jesus had risen.

 

In the Lewis quote, Lewis uses three metaphors.  The first and third are similar.  In the first, Jesus comes down to dredge the sea bottom.  One could assume one dredges the sea bottom for salvage, or possibly salvation of what is in the mud.  In the second, the strong man lifts those who believe up, but before He can save them, he sinks into the mud Himself.  The third is a little complicated, but if you’ve ever done free diving, you can easily understand.  To get Swimming and Life Saving merit badges in the Boy Scouts, I had to rescue something from the bottom of the pool.  (It’s a lot harder in the lake with the mud and slime as C. S. Lewis describes.  You can’t see, so you must feel and look for bubbles.)  Again, the Diver descends into the depths, into the mud and slime, and rescues human nature, but notice the last line.  He rescues human nature, and nature, to a NEW universe.

 

Praise the Lord.  He makes us new again.

 

However, you visualize Jesus coming to earth, living among us, dying for us, and then rising again, the metaphors pale in comparison to the real thing.  The entire thing, as C. S. Lewis is pondering is one miracle after another.

 

I can’t leave this discussion of Easter without the ear worm going through my head each year about this time.  For many, many years, I sung in the choir.  Our processional hymn for the sunrise service on Easter was All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name, sung to the old tune, the one found in the old Broadman hymnal that has been out of print for about 100 years now.  The hymnal used shaped notes, and the tenor part required the full range of a halfway decent tenor.  I loved that tune.  The lyrics below do not include the myriad of repeated phrases.

 

  1. All hail the pow’r of Jesus’ Name!
    Let angels prostrate fall;
    Bring forth the royal diadem,
    And crown Him Lord of all!
     
  2. Ye chosen seed of Israel’s race,
    Ye ransomed from the fall,
    Hail Him Who saves you by His grace,
    And crown Him Lord of all!
     
  3. Let every kindred, every tribe,
    On this terrestrial ball,
    To Him all majesty ascribe,
    And crown Him Lord of all!
     
  4. Oh, that with yonder sacred throng
    We at His feet may fall!
    We’ll join the everlasting song,
    And crown Him Lord of all!

–          Edward Perronet, All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name

 

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