So what was the resurrection? What does it mean to us and How does it affect Christians?
I think there are three aspects to that question and they all relate to each other.
Firstly of course the resurrection is something that happened to Jesus about 2000 years ago – a historical event.
Using the word miracle in its colloquial sense it is to my mind the second greatest miracle ever but linked to the greatest miracle.
The first and greatest miracle is creation itself.
But then we have annihilation – death – all things die.
But in the resurrection we have re-creation.
So for Christians we believe not just in the cycle of life and death but in Life, death and new life. This leads us to our second meaning. Not only is the resurrection a historical event that happened to Jesus it is something that can be applied to us.
When we die we will be resurrected to eternal life. How do we know? Because that is what Jesus promised us in the Bible.
‘Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house there are many dwelling-places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also. And you know the way to the place where I am going.’ Thomas said to him, ‘Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?’ Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
All authority in the world is suspect. Thousands of different voices all telling us different things. But if I am being asked to place my trust in one man in this world I choose to place my trust in Jesus and follow him, as well as I can.
So the first two meanings of the resurrection are a historical fact and a future hope, but if we are not careful that is where our resurrection faith ends, locked in the past and the future. What about now – our present life?
Emerging from those first two meanings the resurrection gives us a way of seeing and perceiving the world. It gives us eyes and hearts of hope. There is no situation so bad that something good cannot grow from it. There is no relationship so broken that it cannot be healed and transformed. In every situation from a stubbed toe to bereavement, from the darkest of situations light can emerge. It is a way of seeing the world through eyes of hope, through the lens of resurrection. We see more deeply and look more closely for the signs of a God who raises up, working in any and every situation.
That light may be slow coming. Between the tragedy represented by Good Friday and the New life represented by Easter Sunday there is Easter Saturday, a day of darkness, desolation, fear and unknowing. For many of us, we can sometimes be locked in an Easter Saturday that seems unending, but eventually, and often, not in the ways we expected, light and growth does come!