The Resurrection

Seven Stanzas at Easter by John Updike

Make no mistake: if He rose at all
it was as His body;
if the cells’ dissolution did not reverse, the molecules
reknit, the amino acids rekindle,
the Church will fall.

It was not as the flowers,
each soft Spring recurrent;
it was not as His Spirit in the mouths and fuddled
eyes of the eleven apostles;
it was as His Flesh: ours.

The same hinged thumbs and toes,
the same valved heart
that - pierced - died, withered, paused, and then
regathered out of enduring Might
new strength to enclose.

Let us not mock God with metaphor,
analogy, sidestepping transcendence;
making of the event a parable, a sign painted in the
faded credulity of earlier ages:
let us walk through the door.

The stone is rolled back, not papier-mache,
not a stone in a story,
but the vast rock of materiality that in the slow
grinding of time will eclipse for each of us
the wide light of day.

And if we will have an angel at the tomb,
make it a real angel,
weighty with Max Planck’s quanta, vivid with hair,
opaque in the dawn light, robed in real linen
spun on a definite loom.

Let us not seek to make it less monstrous,
for our own convenience, our own sense of beauty,
lest, awakened in one unthinkable hour, we are
embarrassed by the miracle,
and crushed by remonstrance.

The Gospel of Luke records the last words of Jesus as “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.” He was quoting a Psalm of David:

In You, O Lord, I have taken refuge;
Let me never be ashamed;
In Your righteousness deliver me.
Incline Your ear to me, rescue me quickly;
Be to me a rock of strength,
A stronghold to save me.
For You are my rock and my fortress;
For Your names sake You will lead me and guide me.
You will pull me out of the net which they have secretly laid for me,
For You are my strength.
Into Your hand I commit my spirit;
You have ransomed me, O Lord, God of truth. (Psalms 31.1-5, NASB)

Our sins can only be forgiven by God but paid for by man. Jesus was the perfect sacrifice. But the story didn’t end there. Jesus was then raised from the dead, not just in spirit or in some sort of new-agey feel good sort of way:

As they [the Marys] entered the tomb, they saw a young man, dressed in a white robe, sitting on the right side; and they were alarmed. But he said to them, Do not be alarmed; you are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has been raised; he is not here. Look, there is the place they laid him (Mark 16.5-6, NRSV).

He was not in the tomb, the physical Jesus, pierced hands and feet and side and all, was not there. Jesus truly is alive and with the Father. He was such an unexpected fulfillment of Israel’s hopes, so much so that many of them were blind to what the prophets foretold. Their desire to see the nation of Israel restored kept them from seeing that Jesus is the new Israel, the Temple was destroyed and then raised, only Yahweh could have done that and did do it for us.

Thanks be to God! Happy Easter!
Η χάρις του κυριου Ιησου μετα παντων. Αμην

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