Readings are here.
The Resurrection. The thing this Good Friday Christian loathes the most. I most understand and identify with the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ for my sins. I am so at home with it. It is my own being that realizes that I flung my sins at Jesus as he marched down the dirty streets of Jerusalem, as I shouted at him and cursed his name, a sin for which the Bible portends no redemption. This is not Patton’s theory of divine reincarnation, as reincarnation is antithetical to my faith. Yet, in the Greek sense of “Do this in remembrance of me” as regards the Eucharist, my soul takes me beyond merely sitting at table with Jesus, but to being a member of the vulgar crowd abusing Jesus on his way to Golgatha. Or maybe Peter, who denied Jesus three times, when I have denied him three thousand times, and three million times I just don’t even recognize. Or maybe Judas, who surrendered his own soul and his Lord and Savior for thirty pieces of silver.
I cannot fully comprehend the Resurrection. After the experience of my own life since I found Jesus Christ, I’ve learned to account for miracles, even raising the dead. This barely scratches the surface of the meaning of Christ’s Resurrection.
I cannot fully comprehend the idea that the bearer of my sins, the Lamb of God, can have new life despite the fact that he bore my sins, and even bore everyone else’s at the same time. The idea of being a lamb for sacrifice can be traced to animal husbandry and sheep. If you have an orphan sheep, you can get another sheep to adopt this one as her own if you but kill her own kid and drip the blood of her kid on this orphan sheep. I am that orphan sheep. Jesus gave his life for me. The Lord could not recognize me as his own without this sacrifice. How could Jesus have been resurrected, as my soul had so much sin from which to be purged. How could God know me, recognize me, place a ring on my finger to allow me to transact his business for him, and kill the fatted calf for me, as in the parable of the prodigal Son, but for someone else having to die in my place. My sins are grevious unto me, and the burden of them is intolerable. Satan, the accuser of the brethren, would try to convince me that Jesus sacrifice wasn’t enough to save my sins. Indeed, it is enough. But, to believe that the person who gave this sacrifice for me would yet live despite his sacrifice?
Yet, there is the Resurrection. I’ve often argued to those who blithely claim that whether Jesus’ physical resurrection physically happened or not is irrelevant, and that what is relevant is what effect that idea has on your life, that belief in the physical resurrection is essential for Christian belief, and that anything less is not Christian, yet I sit here and question the resurrection, not for scientific reasons, but spiritual ones.
We should never underestimate what it cost God to redeem us, through his Son, Jesus Christ. However, we will never be able to overestimate the depth of God’s love for us. The simple truth is that it cost God his only Son, all of himself, to redeem us. He would have paid more for us if God had it. Interestingly, He didn’t have any more to give. Yet, there is resurrection.
All of creation pales before this. The number of Abraham’s progeny are nothing in light of this. Leading a nation out of Egypt and having them walk through a sea on dry land is nothing. Promised a Messiah in the words of the Prophet Isaiah and we are given God himself, in human form, who meets every prophetic word ever spoken in Israel, and yet is so much more. Dry bones living – just an analogy to the resurrected spirit of Israel? Hardly, it is my dry bones that live. Dry bones living is the sinner made not just forgiven, but free. Free, with a nagging feeling I have the freedom to make, not the same, but a similar same sacrifice Jesus made for me, for someone else. This sacrifice will be the best thing I’ve ever done. I will live, just as my Savior lives. I just don’t really understand. Words fail. When words fail, for the Anglican, that prayer book thingy comes in quite handy:
“It is truly right and good, always and everywhere, with our whole heart and mind and voice, to praise you, the invisible, almighty and eternal God, and your only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ our Lord; for he is the true Paschal Lamb, who, at the feast of the Passover paid for us the debt of Adam’s sin, and by his blood delivered your faithful people.
This is the night, when you brought our fathers, the children of Israel, out of bondage in Egypt, and led them through the Red Sea on dry land.
This is the night, when all who believe in Christ are delivered from the gloom of sin, and restored to grace and holiness of life.
This is the night, when Christ broke the bonds of death and hell, and rose victorious from the grave.
How wonderful and beyond our knowing, O God, is your mercy and loving kindness to us, that to redeem a slave, you gave a Son.
How holy is this night, when wickedness is put to flight, and sin is washed away. It restores innocence to the fallen, and joy to those who mourn. It casts out pride and hatred, and brings peace and concord.
How blessed is this night, when earth and heaven are joined and man is reconciled to God.”
BCP, Easter Vigil, pp. 286-287.