April 7, 2010

Luke's Ressurection Narrative

No one knows exactly when Christ’s resurrection took place only that it was sometime between his burial late on Friday and the discovery of the empty tomb early Sunday morning. There were no eyewitnesses to describe the Resurrection itself. Instead, there are descriptions of appearances of the Risen Lord after the Resurrection.

The account of the Passion is one continuous narrative, very similar in all four Gospels. Not so with the narratives of the Resurrection appearances. These are isolated scenes and, while there are some similarities, each Gospel has its own stories to tell.

Luke’s Gospel account can be divided into five episodes, all taking place on Easter Sunday:

1) the finding of the empty tomb at dawn,

2) the appearance of the Risen Christ to two disciples walking to Emmaus,

3) the appearance to the disciples gathered in Jerusalem,

4) the commissioning of these disciples to witness and preach in his name,

5) the end of the visible appearances as Christ is carried off to heaven on Easter Sunday night.

One of the most familiar phrases in the Apostles’ Creed is: “We believe in the resurrection of the body.”

“Resurrection” is not the same as “resuscitation” (the act of reviving from apparent death or unconsciousness). In resurrection, this human existence isn’t simply continued. It’s transformed. This human existence, which for some may not have been so good at all…which may have been plagued by mistakes or just bad breaks…this human existence, is transformed into something magnificent. The seed blossoms into what it was meant to be.

That’s why the crucifixion means so much. The body that was put in the tomb was a wreck-broken, beaten, bloody, ruined. But Jesus went through death to a new, transformed, impossible-to-describe human life. On Friday he was a wreck, and on Sunday this broken body was glorious

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