By Sam Gutierrez
As a way to live more deeply into the Easter story, I’ve been reading a book by John and Sarah Crossan called Resurrecting Easter. Part travelogue and part theological investigation, the book chronicles the Crossans as they travel and visit multiple ancient Eastern churches and monasteries. In those places, they encounter historical images that reveal a completely different model for understanding Easter’s resurrection story. In the opening chapters, they make a rather startling observation. They simply state,
“The major events in Christ’s life and therefore the major feasts in the church’s liturgy – from the Annunciation to the Ascension – are described in the Gospel stories… but there is one exception to that overall sequence, one event in the life of Christ that is never described in any Gospel story. Furthermore, this is not some minor happening, but the most important and climactic one of them all… this is the moment of Christ’s Resurrection as it is actually happening.” (2)
Isn’t that odd? No one was there to witness the actual moment of Christ rising from the dead. The tomb was sealed. No one went in and no one went out. Later, after Christ’s resurrection, some of the disciples find evidence of the Resurrection – the stone is rolled back, the tomb is empty, the burial shrouds are folded up and placed to the side. An angel sits on top of the stone to say that, “Christ is not here, He is risen.” Later, Mary encounters the already risen Christ and mistakes him for the gardener.
Christ rose, and no one was there to witness the exact moment. No cameras. No infrared sensors. No journalist with a computer ready to capture the moment in words. No breaking news TV crew ready to broadcast “LIVE – from the TOMB!”
Christ rising from the dead was the most significant moment in history and no one saw it. There were eye-witnesses of his birth, his miracles, his teachings, his crucifixion and his burial – but not his resurrection.
This begs the question – why?
If you’re reading this blog, I want you (and us) to sit with that questions for a while. In a few weeks, I’ll follow up with some thoughts of my own. But in the meantime ask yourself the question, “Why were there no eye-witnesses of the actual moment of rising?” and feel free to email me (Pastor Sam) with some reflections of your own.