The Resurrection Story
After spending a few minutes remembering the joys of celebrating Easter last weekend, Dan and Rachael turn to the text to walk through the resurrection story. In today’s episode, you’ll hear them step back into what the resurrection brings, which is “deadly serious play” as we get to stand before evil and darkness and say, “Oh death, where is your sting?”
- Read Luke 24
- Listen to last week’s episode, “Disruption and Defiance in the Resurrection”
- Read a blog post published last spring that discusses themes of Holy Saturday titled “Noticing the Dead Things”
Rachael: Well, Dan, as we come back to this conversation on the resurrection, I would love to hear how your Easter was.
Dan: My Easter was fabulous. First of all, we had many of our grandchildren. It was a gorgeous day, which is unusual in the Seattle area during that season, and Becky prompts each of them, especially the very young, she prepares them to carry a basket weeks before so that they can go through the process of an Easter egg hunt. Look, the whole notion of the Easter Bunny. I get it. I get Christians are offended by it, but it’s a freaking metaphor of fecundity, of the idea of life growing life. And yeah, bunnies have more bunnies, but also they lay eggs and they’re to be found. And I’m telling you the joy of our grandchildren rushing around, you know, the older having to deal with a little bit of patience to not push the younger down. You know, the adults all running around trying to get their particular children on film. It’s chaos. It’s this glorious, amorphous chaos. So thank you. It was a very Resurrection day. But as we step into this, what I want you to hear, even from that, is that there’s a story. Look, last week we addressed far more what I would call the theological undergirding, but I want to step more into the story of what the Resurrection brings. And again, if there’s one word that people hear, this is deadly serious play. It is a kind of play where we get to stand before evil, before darkness, before kingdoms of evil and be able to say, as Paul did at the end of first Corinthians 15: O death, Where is your sting? That what we spoke about last time is defiance, disruption, a desire growing engagement with and through our body for the life, that is, and will one day be full. So where we are heading is a passage that if you don’t know it well, you might want to take your Bible now and look at Luke Chapter 24. If you don’t want to do that, then listen to the podcast. But come back to read. Luke 24. It’s so long. It’s so beautiful. We’re going to highlight a few of the sections of it. But there’s just nothing like being in the text and getting a feel for the chaos, craziness, wildness, and eventually again want to come back to say: something about the playfulness. Well, as you remember, the women are coming back to anoint the body. They discover that the stone has been rolled away. They come in the tomb, the cave, and there is no Jesus. But there are two dudes whose white clothing is like lightning and they’re a bit befuddled. That’s, I think that’s a fair beginning to say: the resurrection is really meant to befuddle you, and we spoke a lot about that last time. Death seems to win. Despair seems more consistent than joy, but I love the fact that if you’re not confused by the resurrection, I don’t think you’ve really thought much about it. The arrival of the women to the tomb in and of itself, it’s pretty wild in terms of who encounters the reality of the Risen Christ first.
Rachael: Yeah, I will admit, I’m probably a little more fond of Mark’s gospel version of the women. Just because I think like fleeing in terror at the empty tomb feels to me like, you know, they obviously are the first evangelist, too, but like fleeing in terror at something so, so absurd. And so to me feels a little more like, Yeah, that feels real but you know, all throughout the gospels, the women who followed Jesus, they tend to be, at least in some regard, a little more faithful in these moments of disruption and despair. And, you know, they are going, obviously, this would have been a ritual, women would have carried out there going to anoint, to bring the spices and yet they are the first witnesses to the resurrection.
Dan: Well, let’s just underscore this is core to the notion of the gospel itself. Men are hiding away out of fear that they are going to be pursued, that there will be judgment and consequences. And the women are there at the cross until its completion. They’re there at the very first of daylight on that Sunday. And in any context, women were seen as not reputable in ancient structures of law. Their testimony was never counted to be true. Only testimony confirmed by two men would actually be viewed as something that is true. So the fact that it is such that the first evangelists are women has to be intended by the Father for the purpose of, in some sense dysregulating, disrupting, in many ways the misogyny of that day and that culture. So if we don’t see the resurrection story in and of itself as a form of this is the resurrection fruit already being played out! women are the primary voice of the resurrection, at least initially.
Rachael: Yeah, yeah, and they don’t believe them.
Dan: Well, Peter, which I think is hilarious is the only dude who runs. Now again. The angels have made it very clear this should have been known. You know, why do you look for the living among the dead. The angel says he’s not here. He has risen. Remember how he told you while he was still with you in Galilee? So, at least from the angel’s standpoint, this it’s not so much a mystery, but nonetheless, nobody seems to understand it. Nobody seems to be able to imply the implications. Yet Peter runs, he runs back. But even then, there is no sense of oh, my gosh, let’s all go to the tomb to see the glory of what he told us now evidenced. I don’t know why it brings me comfort, but I love the fact this story reveals what an unhearing, unseeing, essentially unbelieving mess these disciples were after being with Jesus 3.5 years. You know, sometimes I wonder as a teacher whether people get something of what I’m hoping for, I kind of wonder if I get what I’m hoping to not only give but to receive. And this is so comforting. They don’t get much of anything. And yet the disruption of the women again I just have to laugh and go: Yeah, I’m pretty much fearful. Maybe the impulse of Peter is there, but nobody believes. Nobody gets it. And it kind of allows me, even in the Easter season, to basically go: I don’t think I get it. I’m not sure I believe it. But stay with the story, see where it goes. And that’s the shift to Jesus taking a walk with two disciples. And, you know, apparently, he’s unrecognizable to them. You know, I don’t know if that’s a wig? Or whether that’s just spiritual hiding, but whatever it is, they don’t recognize him. And so he basically kind of goes, what’s going on? What are you guys discussing? Their faces are downcast, and one of them says–can you hear the contempt in this– “Are you the only one visiting Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened?” See, I find that even comforting because in the midst of my chaos, confusion when death looks like it’s winning, contempt is my shield. You know, so basically: idiot, you fool. Where have you been? Jesus just asks what things about Jesus. That he’s a prophet. The rulers handed him over, you know, he was the one going to redeem Israel. I mean, do you hear the loss, confusion and contempt? The reality of these folks’ lives is that nothing of what Jesus seemed to have taught them, seems to have remained or clarified what was going to happen. And yet what begins to happen is he takes them to what he calls Moses and the prophets, to explain how Christ had to suffer and die and to be resurrected. And their hearts say to him, come with us, stay with us. It’s too late to be going on. And yet in the middle of all that, he disappears. Come on. I mean, this sounds more like I don’t know, ghost story as to like, it’s just so wild to think about. These guys were eating, hearing, maybe having the first sense of: maybe our view of what Jesus told us now is beginning to make a little bit of sense. Again. I need to be a person who owns the fact that a lot of this is just still very confusing to me. After even 40 some years of being a follower of Jesus uh, their confusion, their not seeing. Their not quite understanding how to read the Old Testament. All that so comforting.
Rachael: Well, it’s interesting that it is a ritual he did with them that actually brings the revealing the revelation the unveiling of he is the one, the one that they’ve loved and followed because it says, you know, they’re urging him to stay. So he went in to stay with them. When he was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed it, and broke it, and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and that’s when he vanished from their sight.
Dan: Wait a minute. Like at that moment, why don’t you stay for a few moments of accolade? Or, you know, just like a conversation like, hey, guys, isn’t this amazing? But apparently not. And then he shows up where the other disciples are basically hiding. And the dialogue and the conversation– Oh my gosh! He begins with: peace be with you. A very formal regular beat greeting. At least we understand in that day, much like Hey, how are you doing? Don’t make it so religious like Hey, what are you doing, how are you? And from that point from verse 36 it’s just again. They’re startled. They’re frightened. They think they saw a ghost and his response. Why are you troubled? Why do doubts rise in your minds? Well, you weren’t here. Now you’re here. Are you kidding? Jesus, this is all supposed to be just normal? I give them a lot of credit to at least be in that position of going what!? And his response ultimately is look at my hands and feet. Touch me. We need to underscore: The resurrection is about the body, and Jesus does all sorts of things with regard to inviting touch. Of course, I know you’re confused, but I’m going to give you prima facie engagement with my body. Come, look, come see, come touch. And eventually, I’m gonna even basically know that you think I’m a ghost, so I’m going to ask for some food. Maybe I’m hungry. Maybe I’m not. But the bottom line is: Jesus is messing with every category of their own understanding of life at this point. And in that I just want to kind of take us to the question of: Well, what does it mean to grow in the power of the resurrection? Does it mean that we’re not confused, That we don’t see that we’re blind, That he appears that he disappears, That he shows himself? I kind of want to come back to this keyword. The resurrection opens up, I think, in this encounter, just a very playful Jesus.
Rachael: Yeah. And I think we probably have to mess with the word playful a little bit because I would imagine when people hear play, you know, you imagine your kids playing. You imagine, you know, maybe someone you know who tends to tell jokes or, you know, maybe you think, Oh, they’re not that serious, right? So how to be curious, Dan, when you think of play and playful what comes to mind? What do you mean? What do you mean by that?
Dan: Well, let’s just start with this, you know, with the disciples who were walking to Emmaus, he didn’t have to disappear! The moment they realized who he is, did he? I mean, don’t you think a nice ending would have been: Hey, look, I’m glad you recognize who I am. It’s going to matter a lot to you in the next few days, weeks, months, years. I’ll be letting you know through something called the Holy Spirit a little bit about what you’re going to be doing. But, hey, I’ve got to show up for those other disciples. And I mean as a guest to just disappear!? Yeah. Look, it’s at least weird, uh, but I think it’s actually a way of saying I’m gonna let my very presence burn in you in a way in which your desire has now come alive. And at that moment, I’m gone, and then he shows up. I mean, no trumpets, no fanfare, like he could have had the angels go: A big arrival is about to occur. I’ll be ready. He just shows up essentially at a meal time with a: Hi boys! How are you doing?
Rachael: Well, it also makes me think about this because I think one of the parts of this text that always grips me as right after he vanishes from the two disciples on the road and they say, were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us, on the road while he was opening the scriptures to us. And it makes me think about how Jesus says while he was on the earth before he died: You know, there will be times you encounter me and really, he’s saying you will encounter me in the least of these and you won’t see it because you really don’t actually understand who I am and what it means that, like the ways in which I am bringing about liberation and salvation are gonna look so different than the ways of this world. So it makes me think about the times I’ve encountered people who I think have been and embody, and I do believe in a real resurrected Jesus. The sci-fi part of me is like, of course, Jesus is like coming into the metaphysical reality in his body disappearing because obviously he can travel through quantum dimensions. So I have no problem imagining this disappearing, vanishing, showing up in a very real body. But I also think there’s something here that alludes to this reality of like we may not always recognize Jesus because we still yet don’t fully understand who Jesus is and I think about times I’ve had encounters with other human beings where I walk away and there is that sense of was my heart not burning inside of me when this person was with me, when they are opening up something of the truth of God, whether that’s like a Bible verse or just some sense of they are revealing something to me about who Jesus is. And so there’s a very playful way in which his presence in the midst of this resurrection moment, these first encounters that is both playful and, I think very humanizing and very inviting.
Dan: Oh, well, and think in terms of, you know, the Matthew 24, 25, 26 section where essentially he’s saying, You know, you didn’t give me water. You didn’t give me food. You didn’t give me clothing. You didn’t give me medicine. Well, when? Well, when you refuse to feed the poor, when you refuse to see yourself as rich yet poor, when you don’t give what you have to offer, whether it be a mite as a widow or whether it be hundreds of thousands of dollars, the bottom line is when we feed those who don’t seem predictable, they don’t have power. They are not predictable. They’re not the people you think would actually be invited to the party. That’s when Jesus says: That’s when you met me. So the playfulness of Jesus is always kingdom-oriented, always about reversal, always standing against structures, systems, the heart of death. And yet, bringing a life that truly is beyond at least my comprehension. I mean, I find myself even in this discussion, I’m still befuddled. Like, What am I trying to say? He’s wilder, just wilder. So dear, so intense in fighting so much of the heart to come alive to doubt, to test, to feel, and touch. And yet in that, the resurrection, being invited to then determine how we will live, what we will do with one another and how we will care with our wealth for the poor and name ourselves as poor needing the wealth of others. So that wacky reversal, it just gives me a sense that I know it’s a dangerous phrase, but this is meant to be a lot more fun than sometimes I hear people speak about their life and ministry, and their labor like this is crazy. This is madness. And if you don’t enter into something of the wild madness of God, then it either becomes dutiful and exhausting, or you dispense it for others to live rather than seeing: This is how my marriage ought to grow with a sense of bewilderment, but also with a sense of the goodness of God and the land of the living playing out in my life.
Rachael: And I think that’s why on Easter Sunday, we always dance in our home, even if it’s just the four of us because there’s something about dancing that feels so deeply connected to the resurrection play of God. It is a defiant joy, joining in the dance of God with creation that I think is meant to change us. And I think sometimes we don’t always see the signs of resurrection around us, and I appreciate the invitation, Dan, to look for the Holy, wild, disruptive Jesus who is with us and who is in our midst.
Dan: Well, I love that image of you and Michael and the boys dancing, because again, where is the resurrection lived out most deeply? It’s in a memorial of death, the body, and the blood of Christ. Yet it’s also the meal that prefigures the wedding feast of the lamb and that joy and I can’t. I can’t think of the two of you dancing. You know, I’ve not yet had the privilege of being in your gorgeous home in Philadelphia, But do I have an image? Oh, yeah, baby. Of you and Michael at your wedding And you know, seriously, what were those things? That glow?
Rachael: [laughs] Glowsticks.
Dan: Golly, it was so silly. And again, my ability to dance basically boils down to an eighties routine of, you know where what am I calling it? Um, like you work out.
Dan: Jazzercise! I just hop up and down. And the freedom, though in that kind of play we have celebrated, you two have become united. And in that sweet gift of the resurrection being played out, it’s communion, banquet, celebration and standing before death. And ultimately, again saying, sucker, you fool, Where is your sting? And I think that’s why we want to end by saying, we know Easter is over. Easter is never over for us. We are meant to imbibe the body and blood. We are meant to dance at the banquet and to in that sense, join the bewilderment. We get Jesus some fish to further show us that he’s not a ghost. He’s gonna one day dine with us with Yes, fine, fine food and drink. Good music, dancing, and ultimately as wild of stories as we encounter in Luke 24. May the Resurrection be ours ongoing.