Sunday, April 08, 2007

Easter, By Any Other Name

I think it has chilled some recently, but there was a movement in Christian circles to ban the traditional name for this holiday and call it Resurrection Sunday instead. I mock these types of movements usually, but I certainly understand why this particular one came about. To Christians, this holiday isn’t about a big bunny, eggs, and a ton of candy. No, it is about the hope and the delivery of all in the world to overcome death and escape the bounds that we are stuck in and conditioned to from birth. Still, “Easter”, in present name, means that to me. I guess I am fine with it.

I am reminded at this time of the year how miraculous the Christian faith really is. A fairly large group of individuals followed their spiritual leader only to watch him miserably and shamefully die. From all accounts, they and their new belief system took a large blow. This execution also killed the new religion of these men and women. They went back to their old lives with their tails between their legs.

Then, something happened. The new faith surged! There was talk of this man Jesus actually be seen – returning from the dead as He said He would and talking and teaching to His followers. Even though the tomb was empty and there was no sign of the body, that doesn’t mean he resurrected, does it? Many of the skeptics accused Jesus’ followers from bribing the soldiers guarding the tomb and stealing the body. There were all kinds of theories.

Yet, something happened that took these dejected followers from their hopeless lives and brought them back to preaching Jesus resurrected. They, by the hoards, were willingly dying for this new belief system. Non-believing historians such as the Roman Tacitis and the Jewish Josephus recorded the unlikely events of this new Christian group - that they grew from nothing and hopelessness, to zealots in the name of this Jesus who was rumored to have conquered death. The disturbing query was this: why would these people come back to this faith, preaching a resurrected Jesus if they merely stole and hid the body? Why would they willingly die for a cause they knew was a lie? They knew if they really saw Him. They knew if they really hid his body? What would they gain but death?

Today, as we watch the kiddies run and find their eggs – when we are gorging on ham and chocolate, remember the resurrection. It is more than a rumor about one teacher long ago coming back to life. It was that and more. Easter reminds us that life-changing hope was resurrected by a group of people who actually knew whether or not there was hope. The facts they really knew and their lives that had to respond to those facts gives hope to us all.

I haven’t forgotten about the the broken window incident. I will follow up on it perhaps tomorrow. I just thought today I had something more important to talk about. Happy Easter or Resurrection Sunday!




5 comments:

Two Write Hands said...

His is risen indeed. Happy Easter.

Anne said...

(OK, this is from an admitted agnostic, so please take with a grain or 2 of salt)

I think you forget that Jesus's own had him killed. They delivered him up to the Roman authorities because he was attracting too much "negative" attention from them.
It was these very same people, this GROUP of Judases if you will, who became the "authority" for Christians when Jesus died. I don't put it past them to steal and hide the body if doing so would (as it did) give them a great deal of leverage among the people they wanted to rule. Jesus was dead, yet the FAITH was alive, and now the people had no one to follow, no one to tell them what to do, but the selfsame clerics who had given Jesus up in the first place.

Jeff said...

Anne: First of all, you are always welcome to comment, offer opinions and disagree with me. I don't get offended easily (or at least I don't show it). ;) I think it is much more intellectually honest for someone to say they are agnostic then to say he/she is an atheist.

I also love the opportunity to tastefully discuss/debate. I don't usually have the opportunity in a blog format.

Now for your post:

If you mean by "his own" the Jews, you are correct to a point. Some of the Jews that were in power teamed up with the Romans to have Him executed. However, I disagree that THOSE Jews had "Christian" authority after the crucifixion. When the Christian movement started, they broke off from the Jewish authorities and set up their own. The chief authority in the new Christian movement was Peter who was one of the twelve disciples of Jesus. The other disciples and others in that group (including James, the brother of Jesus) started their own churches and did not recognize the Jewish authorities after that. The main exception to this was Paul, who was a pharasee while Jesus was alive in the body. However, Paul converted to Christianity and had to be approved by the others before he gained any credibility.

As far as the disciples after the crucifixion getting leverage with the people, I don't see it. The movement was dead with the body of Christ for a while. The people did what they always did - worshipped at the Temple and followed the pharasees and were subjects of the Roman empire. When the Christian movement became alive, Christians had to hide and risk death for their beliefs. I see no leverage here.

Anne said...

You know, even as I wrote that comment I was thinking "What happens if the guy knows much more than you do about the subject? What then, smartypants??" Yet I wrote it out anyway. My bad faith in human nature was shown up by faith. I think maybe I do all this searching sometimes just so I can find the little man behind the curtain and go "AHA!". Pray for me, won't you?

Jeff said...

Anne, that's okay. To tell you the truth, when I first read your comment, I was thrown off. I had never heard that argument before so I had to think about it. I think the way you are searching is fine. You have to follow your own path.