We’ll begin again as we have the past days by saying the entire creed together.
Today, we look at Jesus’s descent to the dead and resurrection from the dead.
Luke 24:1 But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared. 2 And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, 3 but when they went in they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. 4 While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men stood by them in dazzling apparel. 5 And as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? 6 He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, 7 that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise.” 8 And they remembered his words, 9 and returning from the tomb they told all these things to the eleven and to all the rest. 10 Now it was Mary Magdalene and Joanna and Mary the mother of James and the other women with them who told these things to the apostles, 11 but these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them. 12 But Peter rose and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen cloths by themselves; and he went home marveling at what had happened.
First, let’s talk about this “down with the dead” business. We have already discussed that Jesus was fully human. What human dies and does not go wherever it is dead people go? A lot of Christians are uncomfortable saying that Jesus descending into hell. So, not only do we want to skip over to the shiny resurrection part, we want to skip the part where Jesus is human and went where the dead people are. I’m not really sure where those people think Jesus went during those three days. If saying Christ went down with the dead makes you uncomfortable, wrestle with that. I’m not asking you to accept it blindly. I’m simply asking you to actually think about it. He was a man, where else do men go when they die? What Jesus did down there with the dead is a mystery to me. Did he hold an epic battle against Satan at that very moment in time? Did His mere presence burst hell wide open? Did He go and gather those that died in the faith and send them on ahead? I really can’t say what happened. I personally like the Ransom Theory of Atonement. It appeals to my personal sense of justice mixed with my love of mysticism.
Now, we can move to the shiny Resurrection! We believe in a real body that was really dead and was really buried and was really raised. A real resurrected body walking the streets, cooking with His pals, letting people touch his bloody wounds. Not a ghost. Not a phantasm. Not a vision. A real Jesus really raised. Amazing right? Don’t skip to the going back to God’s right hand just yet! Jesus walked around and hung out after He was raised from the dead.
Seven Stanzas at Easter by John Updike
Make no mistake: if he rose at all
It was as His body;
If the cell’s dissolution did not reverse, the molecule reknit,
The amino acids rekindle,
The Church will fall.
It was not as the flowers,
Each soft spring recurrent;
It was not as His Spirit in the mouths and fuddled eyes of the
It was as His flesh; ours.
The same hinged thumbs and toes
The same valved heart
That—pierced—died, withered, paused, and then regathered
Out of enduring Might
New strength to enclose.
Let us not mock God with metaphor,
Analogy, sidestepping, transcendence,
Making of the event a parable, a sign painted in the faded
Credulity of earlier ages:
Let us walk through the door.
The stone is rolled back, not papier-mache,
Not a stone in a story,
But the vast rock of materiality that in the slow grinding of
Time will eclipse for each of us
The wide light of day.
And if we have an angel at the tomb,
Make it a real angel,
Weighty with Max Planck’s quanta, vivid with hair, opaque in
The dawn light, robed in real linen
Spun on a definite loom.
Let us not seek to make it less monstrous,
For our own convenience, our own sense of beauty,
Lest, awakened in one unthinkable hour, we are embarrassed
By the miracle,
And crushed by remonstrance.
Activity: Read the above poem.
Activity: Put on a play! Use the Doubting Thomas story John 20:24-29.
Art: Coloring Page. Resurrected Jesus cooks breakfast for the disciples.