What’s up with Easter? …… It’s a bit of a head scratcher, a perplexing question. And Easter has so many possible answers, it’s a perennial question. Between the four gospels, there are twelve Easter encounters – and no two of them are alike – making the puzzle more complex.
The one thing all twelve stories have in common is – no one was able to recognize Jesus right away. And that’s a big help, really. You can rattle on about amazement all you like, but we do recognize people we are amazed to see, when we see them. So, the evidence is pretty clear that Jesus didn’t look the same. This is huge, the realization that no one comes Up after being that far Down without being significantly changed. So, don’t expect a recognizable Jesus to appear anytime soon. Instead, expect to meet the Risen One in someone who seems to be a stranger.
Easter recognition comes in a variety of ways, depending on the disciple mostly, also depending on where it happens. At the tomb, for Peter, it was folded grave clothes that were convincing. For Mary, it was hearing her name come from his lips. After walking all day and talking with him, it was seeing him break bread at Emmaus that convinced Cleopas. On the beach, after a night’s labor catching nothing, it was the nets straining with fish that convinced Peter. For Thomas, it took touching the wounds, but for the others in the Upper Room, watching Jesus eat was the convincing thing.
Perhaps the point of all of this is that we don’t all have to discover Easter in the same way. Or at the same time. And in any given group of us, we will each experience our own mix of wild joy and major misgivings, and each ask our own questions.
The Aha moments arrive sooner or later, but never on demand.
There are no wrong answers to the Easter question, “What’s Up?”
Easter is a question. Besides Jesus not being recognizable, the other common element in the Easter tales is this: all the amazed disciples were brimful of questions.
The questions brought them to the tomb, to the Upper Room to mull over the reports of those who had gone to the tomb, to the Inn at Emmaus, and to the beach where they fished in confusion and without answers till Jesus prepared them breakfast.
Easter rises from a cradle of questions. Each disciple sees, hears, touches it differently. Each stammering report raises more questions. In the abundance of questions, there’s room for more Rising. The questions act like yeast in the lives of those who stumble upon Easter. May your Easter be so blessed!
Peace, Rev. Wendy Noble