“But on the first day of the week…”
I love that the resurrection narrative in Luke begins with “But…” Jesus has died, he has been buried in a tomb, and his closest followers, particularly the referred to women, have properly laid him to rest. As the stone rolls over the tomb, it is like a seal on the life of Christ. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust. It’s over. The women go home, broken, despairing, and grieving. That sabbath day must have been among the worst of their lives. The Sabbath forced them to come present to their pain, to sit in their loss, and feel everything deeply. There was no denying it, there was nothing that they could do to distract themselves from it. It was a long, hard, dark Sabbath day.
But then chapter 24 begins with “But…” This to me is the Gospel of Jesus Christ- this is the good news. “But” is the good news. We live in a world that often seems broken. I don’t need to list the fruit of this brokenness. It’s all around us- globally, locally, and personally. The reality that we face in this world is a hard one, causing many to at best doubt and at worst completely give up on any semblance of a “good” God. When you look at around at the global, local, and personal struggles of this world (struggles from which I will confess we do get occasional reprieve as we spot moments of beauty), there is reason to believe that God is dead and that God is buried deep into the earth, sealed with a stone.
The “good news”, however, is “but…” What the resurrection does is offer us an alternative reality. It is not a denial of the current realities that we see and experience here and now on the surface. But it is an alternative reality that exists alongside the brokenness, fear, pain, and grief that says that the “right now” is not the end of our story. The good news of “but” says the story is not over. So often in our lives what is happening “right now” feels like what is and what will always be, but as I look at even my own life, I can see that this is not true.
I have gone into and then out of all kinds of circumstances. I have had some really hard, dark seasons in my life (as well as some really glorious and beautiful ones), and none of them have remained forever. My story and the story of this earth continues to spin. So does your story. When we move from Luke 23 to Luke 24 we get a “but” faith. We move from a really bad day, the worst kind of day, to “but…”
This, for me, is what resurrection is. It is not an event that happened once nearly 2,000 years ago. It is something that happens all around us all the time and will continue to do so. Resurrection looks at the condition of the the world and our world and says, “but…” It reminds us that this is not the end of our story, that God is indeed working beneath the surface of what we see and experience here and now, and that God even walks among us here and now, regardless of whether we even recognize that it is God.
There is great pain, suffering, and hurt in this world here and now. And we must not turn a “Pollyanna” blind eye to it in the name of religion. But in that reality, we must trust that there is more than we see. There is indeed great pain, suffering, and hurt in this world, but…