We live in a fast moving society. Everything is recorded on video; in sports every play, every throw, and every score. We even have instant replay and slow motion. Did the football actually cross the goal line before the runner's knee touched the ground? Did the runner touch the base before he was tagged out?
Almost 2000 years ago there was no video camera mounted focusing on the tomb of Jesus. The 4 Gospels have different versions of the resurrection of Jesus. The 15th chapter of St. Paul's 1st letter to the Corinthians has even another description of the resurrection and appearances of Jesus shortly after the resurrection. If there was a video camera we could see how and who removed the stone from the tomb. Did Jesus remove the stone from the inside? Did one person remove the stone from the outside? Did it take more than one person? If so who were they? Were they grave robbers? If the stone was removed by an angel (as mentioned in Matthew's Gospel) do angels "show up" on video? If the resurrection were today Mary Magdalene would have pulled out her cell phone, taken a picture of the empty tomb and sent it to Peter with a text message, "Peter get over here, you won't believe it, the tomb is empty-hurry and bring John with you".
It is so very easy to get caught up in all the details of the actual resurrection event that we can miss the whole meaning. Today we call that missing the forest for the trees---focusing on individual details while missing the essential message.
The essence of the resurrection is not that a dead body left the tomb, but that a living person who had been dead, Jesus of Nazareth, lives once more, now transformed and glorified with God. He has passed through this earthly life and entered into the heavenly realm. He continues to live in his Church through his Spirit. Jesus lives in you and in me as we are the body of Christ.
Easter Sunday morning in 1994 at 5:30 a.m. my mother died. At age 75---12 years prior to her death---she had her right leg amputated. She never was fitted with a prosthesis and spent those 12 years in bed; a chair; or wheel chair when mom and dad would go out. Dad would push mom in her wheel chair wherever they went. I have always had the vision of Jesus, on Easter Sunday morning coming into her hospital room, taking mom by the arm and saying to her, "Dorothy, take my hand we are going home. We have had a hard time lately." With that mom got out of bed and walked out of the hospital room with Jesus. She was with Jesus 3 years later in 1997 on Good Friday when dad died.
Like Jesus we too must leave our tomb. We can be dead in spirit. We can be dead to those around us. We can be dead to the needs of our community. We can be dead to the needs of the world, the homeless, the suffering, and the starving.
Easter is all about resurrection. Easter is all about leaving the past behind. Easter is all about finding a new way to live and love; to cherish and to hold on to what is important.
We will see in the next 50 days of the celebration of the Easter Season 4 appearances of Jesus to his disciples and the challenges he gives them. Living in a resurrected, glorified manner may cause some not to recognize you. The disciples did not recognize Jesus. Thomas did not recognize him. Those on the road to Emmaus did not recognize him.
When you are not chained to the old way of living but are freed from the manner of life which is confining; which is death dealing; which places you in a tomb where you are dead to the world, you can not live like the resurrected Jesus. Jesus died once and then rose from the dead and now lives forever and will never die again. We too will die. Some of us may choose cremation and ask that our ashes be returned to the earth at a favorite place we had experienced the presence of God while alive. Some in past wars were buried at sea. Some of us will have a traditional burial in a casket.
Do not get caught up in the hows of our pending resurrection. Those are the wrong, meaningless questions. Rather spend time seeking the resurrected Jesus; the one who conquered death for all time; the one who was seen by many in many different ways; the one who calls out to you, "Come follow me".
While still alive refuse to let your spirit die; refuse to be placed in a tomb of your own making. Jesus is risen today. Jesus is challenging you to live your life to the fullest now. Leave your tomb and get on with your life of love and service. Jesus has shown you the way, as he told us, "I am the way the truth and the life.
My prayer this Easter Sunday morning is that some day we will hear Jesus say to us, "Come, you whom my Father has blessed and inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world,...for I was hungry, for I was lonely, for I was in prison..." you know the rest.
May the resurrected Jesus live in you and challenge you forever.