Thursday, April 1, 2010

Unseen Resurrection

I love the way the gospels avoid the resurrection scene. Instead of a dramatic account of a rising savior, they give us apostolic visits to an empty tomb. Jesus arose unseen and unnoticed. There is no description of the moment he rose from the dead. No disciples watching. No shepherds abiding.  No angels singing. No wise men bearing gifts. Just a dark empty cave.

When the risen Lord finally shows up, no one notices him. Mary Magdalene looks at him and does not see him. Two disciples walk with him for hours, and they do not recognize him. An unseen resurrection and an unnoticed Christ.

It is all so very mysterious - like a M. Night Shyamalan film. That is whom I would choose to direct a movie about the life of Christ. Not Mel Gibson. I want someone to catch the atmosphere of suspense that I read in the gospels.

An empty tomb is mysterious. I remember the first time I stepped foot in the Garden Tomb in Jerusalem. The guide said it was Jesus' tomb. I don't think so. I don't think the other tomb I visited at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher was his tomb either. It may be close to the original site, but it is not the real thing. It is just a replica, like the Holy Land theme park in Orlando, but with incense.

But the site of the Garden Tomb provided enough authenticity to get my heart moving. It was a real tomb and the date of the tomb was approximately right. That was good enough to satisfy my skeptical mind. It was all it took for my imagination to soar.

I believe in the resurrection of Christ. My mind is convinced that Jesus physically rose from the grave. There is more evidence for the resurrection of Jesus than most events in history. If you have doubts, I suggest you read one of Lee Strobel's books on the subject. It is also crucially important for all kinds of theological reasons.

But in addition to reason and theology is my personal experience of the unseen Lord. The empty tomb of my soul experiences the living presence of the risen Christ. When my soul is empty, it is full of the Spirit of Jesus. When I am too much present, Christ is nowhere to be seen. Or more accurately, he is present but I don't recognize him.

The soul's emptiness is God's spaciousness. When man is absent, Christ arises. My experience of the risen Christ is a mystery, but it is powerful. There is an aura of suspense every time I enter the quiet space of prayer. How can I describe this? When I put it in words, it sounds like pietistic drivel or sentimental subjectivism.  Where is M. Night Shyamalan when you need him?

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