Bishop Lindsay Urwin continues our series of twelve meditations on the doctrines of the Creed in preparation for our Christ Our Future event on June 10
JESUS LAYS DOWN his life “in order to take it up again”, and in that taking, Jesus gathers up not only humanity who, by faith in his cross and resurrection are offered a share in his quality of life in unity with the Father, but also transforms the destiny of the whole creation.
“Most blessed of all nights, when heaven is wedded to earth and all creation reconciled to God!”
This mystery, too great for us, is sung with awe and joy in the darkness of night waiting for the sun which never sets. Too deep for words, yet “according to the scriptures”, the resurrection of Jesus is a mystery to be lived. Live as if the resurrection is true!
The dreams and aspirations of men and women since stories were first whispered into the ears of children, and cartoons were scratched on to the sun-baked rocks by our ancestors, or Pharaohs built their tombs, are of eternity. It’s the stuff of potions and elixirs, but now we understand that this hope which has tantalised but inevitably tormented us, is truth, and that it comes as a gift, as grace, through Jesus. Hope and Image restored not by the schemes of men but through the obedience of Christ.
The bodily resurrection of Jesus into a transformed, yet the same, Lord: the empty tomb is a sign and guarantee that this relentless hope for eternal life is no wish dream. But neither will eternity and its activities and rest be shaped by my self-centred dreams or limited vision, but is “hid with Christ in God.”
Jesus pours out his life in love for us and invites us to share their place with him. Indeed as we share in his life, his sonship, by adoption, so we share his place in the very life of the Trinity. It is in him to invite us. He can do no other, for that is why he came “that none be lost”.
The cross, so weighed down by his own sacred body, yet also with the weight of disobedience, is not to be understood as failure, while the clearly labelled (INRI) yet empty cross of Easter is the success – as if God has somehow turned his face away on Friday only to amend his mistake with a conjuring trick on Sunday. The Cross is glory! And the glory of the third day vindicates the sacrifice. It’s all glory. It’s the same love. Two phrases in our creed, one reality of love. The perfect sacrifice is triumph over death and ushers forth resurrection.
Hanging there with Jesus, is everyman who asks to be remembered, and with Jesus, early in the morning is everyman who has indeed been re-membered, put back together, restored and reconciled with God. Only have faith!
The scripture speaks of resurrection as an event, living encounter, as meeting, touching and eating with the Lord. A traditional Orthodox greeting expresses the physicality in a beautiful way “The Lord is risen!” “He is risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!” It is the miracle, and all other miracles are as it were, foretastes of that ultimate healing.
Paul’s post-Ascension experience of Jesus is dependent upon the fact of the resurrection. Indeed that resurrection was the heart of his preaching, and without it, there was no purpose in preaching, and faith “in vain”. For Paul had experienced the mixed blessing of the Law, and Jesus as role model or moral teacher to be copied was no good news at all.
There is nothing more urgent in the Church today, nothing more effective in evangelisation than Christian communities living as if the resurrection of Jesus is true; living it as the reality most to be trusted, and seeing all things in that glorious light. No resurrection, no Spirit. No Spirit, no Life! And we are to be pitied… But thanks be to God who in Christ “always leads us into triumph…” (2 Corinthians 2).