When I set about writing a blog post on today’s Gospel lectionary passage, John 20:1-18, I thought “Oh yea! The resurrection passage on Easter – piece of cake!”
Yea, right. So, six days in, and I’m still staring at my computer with nothing. Nada. Zilch.
Part of my problem is that when I blog, I put a lot of pressure on myself to be brilliant and funny and say something highly original so that my readers will be utterly astounded and think, “Wow, I never looked at it this way before! Why has no one told me?! That’s amazing!”
Ahem. I promise I’ll get help for that.
It’s not easy to say something highly original when discussing the Gospel. The story is more than 2000 years old, and the details haven’t changed much in that time. There have been no scheduled updates, or recommended upgrades, and unfortunately, no found video footage to consult. What we have is pretty much what we’ve had since John wrote it, except that it’s been translated from koine Greek to whatever language we are reading it in today. Of course, if you’re reading it in koine Greek, then it hasn’t changed at all.
Most of us probably remember learning about Jesus’ resurrection in Sunday school. I remember making a little cave out of a Dixie cup, with a marshmallow “stone” next to the opening. I made a glittery paper angel and stuck her on top of the marshmallow with a toothpick. The “cave” was nestled in and under some plastic grass surrounded by jelly beans and M&Ms in an Easter basket. Then we made a little sign that said “He is not here. He is risen!” and glued it to the front of the basket.
I was utterly confused by this project. Was Jesus buried in a pastel basket? And where was the Easter bunny if “he is not here”? There seemed to be a mixed message there.
Anyway, maybe it isn’t my job to say anything original, or funny or brilliant. The story of Mary Magdalene, Peter and John seeing that Jesus’ tomb was empty can stand on its own, as it has for more than two millennia. Although to be fair, John’s version of the story of the empty tomb probably leaves us with more questions than answers. Why did he feel it necessary to mention that he ran faster than Peter? (Uh, competitive much?) Why did he tell us Mary Magdalene didn’t recognize Jesus, but assumed He was the gardener? Was He holding pruning shears?
Maybe it isn’t my job to convince you that it really happened, or to debate the subtle differences between John’s version of events and the versions found in Matthew, Mark and Luke. It isn’t my job to argue about whether there was one angel or two, or whether the angel was inside the tomb or outside of it sitting on top of the stone. None of those things really matter in the grand scheme of things, do they?
We live in the 21st century, and “mystery” is no longer in fashion. We don’t like not knowing things. We demand to know everything about everyone all the time. How else do you explain People magazine? But despite the fact that we have virtually all of the world’s knowledge available to us at the click of a button, science and technology have not been able to explain everything. Like where those socks go when you lose them in the dryer, or the appeal of Peeps.
Yes, there is still mystery in the world; especially when it comes to the spiritual. We just have to accept that there are some things that are mysterious; some things we will never know.
I am content to live with the mystery of Jesus’ death and resurrection. My faith tells me that it really happened. My faith tells me that the tomb really was empty. My faith tells me that God raised Jesus from the dead, and in doing so, conquered sin and death once and for all. My faith tells me that in Jesus’ death and resurrection, all our sin is forgiven. My faith also tells me that somehow God reconciled humanity to Godself in the process of Jesus’ death and resurrection, and that it was an act of unconditional love!
I do not know the details of how God did this, but I do know that it did not involve a bunny. I do not need to know the inner workings of this mystery. I don’t need to know everything and I’m OK with that. That’s why it’s called faith.