This is one of my posts that my atheist friends would probably just as soon skip. Having issued that caveat, Happy Easter everyone! I realize most of you are probably reading this after an Easter lunch that may or may not have included a follow-up Easter Egg Hunt because Easter Sunday means one thing all over — you are going to church!
Easter draws us to church like the Moon draws the oceans to make the tides. It’s the one Sunday of the year when anyone who has ever professed some sort of attachment to Christianity at some point in their lives knows that this Sunday he cannot get up and play golf (unless he is in the final round of The Masters) and she cannot lay in late to get extra beauty sleep.
Easter is the Sunday of beautiful new dresses, patent leather shoes, and really big, ornate hats. It is the Sunday of shirts with collars too tight and suits smelling of mothballs. Easter is the one Sunday out of the year when pastors, priests, and parishioners alike know and have known for years what the sermon or homily will be this morning. Some will sit in the pew or upon the folding chairs and wonder to themselves as they do each year, “Is any of what this person is saying real?”
My answer to that question is simple; “If — somewhere deep within you — you don’t believe any of this, then why are you here on this beautiful spring morning and not at the lake?” Christmas may have been overwhelmed by the culture to the point that only the most devout hold on to its true meaning, but not Easter. All the cute little bunnies and brightly colored eggs in the world can’t erase the real meaning of this day. People like Richard “The God Delusion” Dawkins may mock it, David Letterman may laugh at it, and many in the pews may question it, but EVERYONE knows that behind Easter is one simple, incomprehensible fact . . .
Jesus Christ rose from the dead.
For over 2000 years, skeptics have tried to tear down the Resurrection. They have advanced theory after theory about how Jesus didn’t really die on the cross or Jesus didn’t really exist at all or the Apostle Paul made the whole thing up. So far, they haven’t done a very good job because the Resurrection continues to resurrect lost lives.
I will be plainly honest with everyone. For the last several years, I’ve been plagued by doubts about nearly every aspect of my own personal faith. I’ve tossed out all my beliefs and rebuilt them. I’ve teetered on the edge of the chasm of atheism myself all because of several personal struggles that I’ve endured in recent years. Many times I’ve wondered if there’s really anything to any of it. Every time though, when my belief has reached its lowest ebb and my faith is in tatters and I wonder who really is right, one thing and only one thing burns in my mind as the one “doubt” that keeps me going. What is it?
Where’s the body?
Romans and Jews in the ancient world and a slew of modern cults and scientists have EVERYTHING to gain if Jesus really stayed dead. Think about it, Christianity destroyed the Roman Empire. You thought the barbarians did that, didn’t you? Well, guess what? The barbarians that sacked Rome were Christians. They were Arianist and had a few things off in their Christology, but they were Christians.
Where’s the body?
When the disciples started running around screaming about “He is risen, etc, etc”, Pilate and Caiaphas could have simply gone to the tomb with their escorts of guards, opened the tomb, put Jesus’ still dead body on a cart and wheeled it through the streets of Jerusalem. It would have been game, set, and match for this infant religion. When Peter caused such an uproar with his sermon on the Day of Pentecost, the authorities just had to go to the tomb and drag out the body. You put Jesus’ body on display in or around 33 AD and the last 2000 years look a whole lot different.
But they’ve never been able to do it.
People have asked me before how someone so intelligent as I supposedly am in so many other facets of knowledge can be so terribly backward and ignorant about “Zombie Jesus?” I always say the same thing, “Habeas Corpus” which is Latin for “bring forth the body.” I don’t have the certainty I had as a child about how God works. I’m not clear on a lot of theological issues anymore. Still, at the end of the day, there’s the Resurrection and that means there is hope.
Hope that all the suffering that’s gone on down here isn’t for nothing. Hope that I’ll get to see my Papas and Grannies again. Hope that putting Mama in the grave won’t be the end of it all. Hope for something I’ve always felt around the edges but never have been able to put my finger on.
I’ve been called a fool for believing in Zombie Jesus, but considering all the foolish things I’ve done in my life, that’s the least of my worries. 2000 years ago, a bunch of scared women ran into a gathering of scared men and said angels had told them Jesus was risen. A little while later, The Man Himself appeared to them all and said, more or less, “I told you I would only be gone a little while.”
In the 20 centuries since then, a lot of people have given up a lot of things, including their own lives just to hold on to that hope. If it was good enough for all of them, I see no reason to let go of all my hope now. When all else is a big ball of confusion, the Empty Tomb still echos with the words, “He is not here; He is risen, just as He said.”
That’s good enough for me.
Love y’all and have a blessed Easter.