In Jesus, in his dying and his rising, God is telling us that death is not the end…death does not have the final word…
The Gospels assure us that, like Jesus’ birth, the resurrection was physical. Jesus’ tomb was empty, people could touch him, he ate food, he was not a ghost. The full nature of his physical body is a mystery, but in some real way the apostles related to the risen Jesus in a physical manner.
“To believe that Jesus Christ was raised from the dead, the whole of the Christian creed in a single line, is to believe that at the center of things there is a power who is Lord of the universe and fully in charge, irrespective of falling civilizations, the apparent triumph of chaos over order, and the presence of death itself. The earliest Christians used to have only a single line to their creed: Jesus is Lord. For them, that said enough. It said everything. It said that at the center of all things there is a gracious, personal God, and that this God is powerful enough and loving enough to underwrite everything.” (Ron Rolheiser)
Jesus knew this truth. In his darkest moment, when everyone was turning on him and he knew that his brutal, lonely death was imminent, he still prayed in the garden, “Father, all things are possible for you.” By all human standards, Jesus knew he was going to die a failure, and he was deeply troubled by this reality, but yet he never lost his hope in God. And isn’t this the very heart of our faith? Our faith in the resurrection basically says that no matter how dark our days are or become, there is a center that holds. God…life…love is greater than death. That is the heart of our creed and our faith in the resurrection.
Jesus is our example…our proof…our hope. We don’t believe that our faith negates our reason, but we do believe that sometimes it exceeds it: that God does some things that will always remain a mystery to us this side of the grave – the resurrection certainly being one of them.
When my faith is weak I try to remind myself that though we may never fully understand what happened in that upper room some 2000 years ago, we can however be rather sure that SOMETHING happened in that upper room! Something big! Something that transformed a bunch of trembling, timid and confused men huddled in fear, hiding behind locked doors into astonishingly bold and courageous people who proclaimed the good news that “Jesus is STILL Lord!”…ALL but one of them dying a brutal martyrs’ death as a result of their fearless preaching of Jesus’ resurrection.
So, we may not fully “get it” (and would God really be God if we did?) but in faith, on our better days, on the witness of the apostles, we can say boldly in faith with one and all our brothers and sisters in Christ who have gone before us “I DO believe in the resurrection of the body.” On our better days, we know this mystery to be true. We know in our gut there is a center that holds.