By Sam Gutierrez
A few weeks back, I noted an observation made by John and Sarah Crossan in their traveling theological investigation called “Resurrecting Easter” where they pointed out that no one was a direct witness of the resurrection of Jesus as it was actually happening. The tomb was sealed. We have direct eyewitness accounts of many moments of Jesus' life – including the key ones of his birth and death, and even his burial. But on Easter morning, Jesus rose from the dead...and no one saw it.
Then I posed the question – why? Why would the climax of the gospels and the most significant event in human history have no eyewitnesses to the “moment” of resurrection?
I’ve been thinking about this over the past few weeks. Here is my best thought:
New Life is an act of faith. The spark of new life is always initially hidden from us. We have to trust that it is happening, even when we have no evidence. Let me give you a few examples to highlight my point.
Every spring, old “dead” seeds sit in the ground waiting for the rain and the warm sun. Long before the green delicate stem pushes and then pokes through the wet and dark ground, the dead seed casing has already broken open and given way to new life. Before green pushes through, we look at the ground and it looks like nothing is happening. New life has begun, but it’s hidden. We only notice it at a later point. With astonishment, we exclaim and point– “look at that!”
The same thing is true of human life. The beginnings of new life are hidden from us. We only see signs of new life as the baby grows in darkness. Then, after 9 long months, we see life – fully formed as it exits the womb. As human beings, (without the aid of scientific instruments) we are not privileged to behold the moment (or spark) of new life.
It’s true that Jesus raised people from the dead in the gospels and there were eyewitnesses to these resurrections. Jesus raised a woman in plain sight of everyone in Luke 7:11-17 – but the difference here is that they were getting their old life back in their old tired body. All these folks eventually died again.
The difference between these “momentary” resurrections and Christ’s “permanent” resurrection was just that – The kind of new life and new body Jesus “awoke” with is a major turning point in history – it was and is unique. And again, we are talking about brand new life – and that, apparently, is a mystery that is too much for us.
So, long before we see signs of new life, we have to trust that it is happening. This is perhaps why “the moment” of Jesus' resurrection had no eyewitnesses.
New life happens in the dark.