Thought for the Week: 18th April 2021

Our thought this Sunday is by Tom Wright

Resurrection power

36 While they were still talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.”

37 They were startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost. 38 He said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds? 39 Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have.”

40 When he had said this, he showed them his hands and feet. 41 And while they still did not believe it because of joy and amazement, he asked them, “Do you have anything here to eat?” 42 They gave him a piece of broiled fish, 43 and he took it and ate it in their presence.

44 He said to them, “This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.”

45 Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. 46 He told them, “This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, 47 and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things.   (Luke 24:36-48)

 

The ancient world knew all about ghosts, visions, apparitions, and spooks. Ancient literature has plenty of people being found alive after being supposed dead, plenty of spirits of the dead returning to haunt, spy on, or chat with the living. Jesus’ disciples could easily have used such categories to explain their extraordinary experiences of the presence of the risen Jesus.

 

That they did not is powerful testimony to what actually happened. The real explanation is stranger, and is backed up by evidence of various kinds. The disciples were confronted with a new form of reality, for which they were unprepared, but for which the language of resurrection (not of ghosts, or of mere resuscitations) was available. Jesus, they believed, had gone through death and out the other side into a new mode of life. This was, naturally enough, difficult to describe, but it seems to have involved his physical body being transformed so that it was now inhabiting both our space and God’s space.

 

And this is what life might be like for us, too. There aren’t words to describe what we shall be, says John, but when Jesus is revealed we shall be like him. We shall see him as he is; and we shall be changed into his likeness, into the Easter mode of being. That’s mind-boggling, of course, but that’s the point. Good theology requires good imagination!

 

Easter humanity, in fact, is genuine humanity, as opposed to humanity distorted and defaced by sin, decay and death. Resurrection power comes to us, as it were, from our future, so that we can anticipate the truly human life in the here and now.

 

The power that healed the physical cripple, glorifying the God of Israel in the process, is available to heal moral cripples (like you and I) as well.

 

Taken from Twelve Months of Sundays 4 Year B by NT Wright