Monday, April 25, 2011

Easter, Day 2 (The Forty Days Series)

Why is it that low-church protestants can commemorate 40 days of Lent with a straight face, but not the 40 days of Easter?

I don't know the answer to this question. My hunch is that it is because we understand the crucifixion but not the resurrection. We believe Christ was raised from the dead. If you deny it, you are in trouble. Many of us even think you could prove it like any other historical event.

But we don't spend much time seeking to understand it.

Thankfully, we are not alone in believing but not understanding. The disciples were in the same boat:
Finally the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went inside. He saw and believed. They still did not understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead. Then the disciples went back to where they were staying. (John 20:8-10)
Even those who saw the empty tomb didn't really grasp what was going on. They bought it, but they didn't get it. They believed but did not yet understand.

The empty tomb is an indispensable sign that evokes our faith in the truth of Christ's resurrection. But in itself it does not manifest the meaning of Christ's resurrection.

What does?

The manifestation of the risen Christ himself. When he appears, the disciples not only believe but begin to understand. In fact, he manifests himself again and again over a period of forty days, during which the disciples' eyes were opened: "Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures" (Luke 24:45). Luke indicates that the 40 days were a time not only of "convincing proofs that he was alive" (Acts 1:3) but also of "spoke about the kingdom of God" (Luke ).

The 40 days of Easter are time for faith that seeks understanding.

Join me every day for the next 40 days. I'll post some thoughts on the meaning of our Easter faith.


pastorchris'place said...

As always, inspiring and insightful! (I'm not just saying that because I shared a sermon on John 20 that made that very point yesterday, either!)

Glad to see you posting again!

Dave Belcher said...

A quick correction: Eastertide is fifty days long (another name for Easter season or Eastertide in fact is "The Great Fifty Days" -- the word pentecost itself meaning the fiftieth day). It's a seven week period inclusive of Pentecost, not ending at the Ascension of Our Lord (yet another name for Eastertide is "The Week of Weeks": 7x7 inclusive of the fiftieth day, seven weeks after easter). Peace.

Bill said...

I really like your sentiment here, but I always though the season of Easter lasted 50 days (Resurrection Sunday to Pentecost). I think this would bolster your argument even more, ecclesiastically speaking, as the Church ought to give even more attention to the resurrection.

JohnLDrury said...

Thanks for the liturgical corrections. I'm sticking with 40 days because this new series is not about the church calendar, but only occasioned by it. My interest is in the original resurrection event in his fulness, i.e., the story of the forty days. Any thoughts on the content of my first installment?