The Sunday that Jesus came back to life changed everything. Literally, that event completely changed the course of human civilization.
Jesus was dead. His soul had left his body. I wonder how hard it was for his followers to see. If you’ve ever seen a dead body before, you’ve been struck by how our skin is just a shell thinly veiling the glory of our souls. As much as that’s true for any of us, how much more shocking would the difference be in someone whose words were filled with life? Someone whose every action affirmed the very goodness of life? To see that body so unrelentingly still… To watch the eyes go glassy, then hollow, then disappear as they rolled toward the heavens… How much harder was the death of Christ for Jesus’ followers when they had placed their hope and faith for the future squarely on his now limp shoulders?
And yet… All was not still. Forces were at work, actively changing the way we would relate to God forever. We imagine the inside of Jesus’ tomb to be a quiet, somber place. But for the shining glory of Jesus’ soul, his work wasn’t complete. The Bible says he descended into the realm of the dead. It is believed that when sin entered into this world, it forced the gates of heaven shut. Those that died prior to Christ were waiting for the day their savior would allow them to enter Paradise. Jesus went down, down, into the depths and shone like a beacon. Jesus spoke to the dead. He connected the dots. Even in death, he preached a sermon. His death had kicked the pearly gates open, and in his grace he allowed those already past to enter a world beyond imagining. For the first time, death no longer meant bleak darkness. It was no longer a prison sentence. In fact, quite the opposite. Death was now just the beginning.
And so it was that the God that created molecular cohesion and gravity and Bernoulli’s Principle reached into the dashboard of the world and hot-wired Jesus. He rewrote the rules, the very laws of existence in this world in order to allow Jesus to walk among us for just a little longer. In doing so, he completed the work that Jesus started and showed those of us on this side of Eternity that death was truly defeated. No longer did we have to fear it. No longer was it something for us to hide from. Through Christ, we had discovered a life that flows inside and throughout and outside of our own.
Jesus coming back from the dead changed the world. Every one of the disciples that saw Jesus were so moved by the experience they began telling any who would listen about this amazing man they knew and the incredible things they said. Their words spread far and wide and went on to create a movement that would later become a religion. That religion would be brutally persecuted, but then curiously adopted by the persecutors. It became the official religion of the Empire, and even after the Empire fell the stories the disciples told would still be whispered and retold. Stories of Christ moved from the Middle-East, to Africa, to Europe, to America.
And here we are. Thousands of years later, and we’re still talking about this Jesus guy who said so many weird and wonderful things.
I think sometimes we need to remember that the story of Easter isn’t about one day. It’s a story that began the very moment the universe came into existence. It’s a story not just of individuals living out their lives, but an ongoing effort by a God that still loves and adores us to be understood. Through Jesus, we can now communicate with that God directly. If we keep our eyes open, if we listen close… If we do our best to look through this world into the very wiring of it… Maybe we can catch a glimpse of our Creator and hear what he’s whispering to us.