Mary sits outside the empty tomb. The angels have told her that Jesus is no longer there. He has risen. The words don’t compute. How could they? Jesus was the one who raised people from the dead. But he’s dead. He’s dead. Then the gardener comes and speaks her name. And the unbelievable becomes not yet believable, but somehow...true. Now what?
Preaching in front of the Easter banner, a clear blue butterfly on a background of soft white, the priest reminds us that for Mary, as well as for the rest of us, the resurrection remains a mystery. We can’t understand it. We can’t make sense of it, even as a sense of joy floods through our bodies, our minds cannot grasp what our emotions are experiencing.
How did this happen? Certainly this was a question in the minds of all who saw Jesus that Easter Sunday. But Jesus never gives an answer. At least not one that is recorded in the Gospels. It will take the disciples weeks, even years to come to an understanding of the events of Easter weekend, and to find words to describe what God was up to in the crucifixion, death, burial and resurrection of the God-man Christ.
The questions continue today. What happened at the cross? What does atonement really mean? These are hot topics of conversation on many blogs I follow. Pondering and answering those questions are important; they inform our attitudes and our behaviors. And getting them wrong can lead to tragedy, quenching the Spirit of love. But at best, we will only begin to understand.
Several weeks before his death, Jesus heals a man who was blind from birth. After his sight is restored, the religious leaders ask him, How did this happen? You tell me, he responds, you’re the religious ones. All I know is that once I was blind, and now I see.
As we move into the Easter season, perhaps we should take some time to sit in the questions, to ponder the mystery. Something has happened which is incomprehensible. Many of us, following in the steps of the risen Christ, have also undergone a metamorphosis. Like the butterfly emerging from the cocoon, we are a new creation. May we pause to wonder at our wings before we take to the skies.