The Weather Report

We have stepped into the furrow of a new season.  Dormant plant life blooms and sprouts. The soil warms and seed germinate. A sleeping force is awakened by the increased daylight. Complete with its thunder and rain, spring recurs.

It is common to hear the resurrection likened to spring. The comparison is understandable. It underscores our desperate state when pushed to explain it. The poet is onto something when he says of Easter, “It was not as the flowers cut each soft spring recurrent.” Cut flowers soon die and are thrown out. I do not know anyone who saves them with the hopes of their blooming again. Dead flowers do not come back to life.
Equally as common is to hear the resurrection equated to resuscitation. The evangelist John saw this one coming.  His attention at the grave pays dividends for the Christian affirming belief in resurrection.
In Jewish burial, a corpse was wrapped from head to toe. Arms were tied to the body with strips of linen.  The face was bound with another cloth. Movement was rendered impossible. If resuscitated, the person would be reduced to a shuffle. Thus, Jesus’ memorable instruction at the grave of Lazarus: “Unbind him.”  
John’s observation of the grave clothes indicates that Jesus’ situation is not that of a resuscitated corpse.  At the very least his body had been swiftly dematerialized, leaving the grave cloths as they were. My friend Charles Talbert says, “The risen Jesus’ body passes through his grave clothes just as it does through walls and doors. His corpse has not been resuscitated; it has been transformed from mortal into immortal.”
The case of Lazarus, the brother of Martha and Mary, speaks to resuscitation. Alive again, there was little noticeable difference in his body. He was the same as before, a mortal. After a hot bath and a change into clean clothes, few reminders of death remained. Lazarus got busy living as before.
Talk of resurrection is facetious until the power of death is acknowledged. The man/woman who does not realize that dying means the end of something, and who is not terrified at it, cannot grasp the significance of the resurrection. In its fullest understanding it means life’s completion. The perishable putting on the imperishable defies easy explanation. Evidently passing through walls and doors is one characteristic.
Easter nears. It is the apogee of the church year.  The appropriate emotion is joy. As we prepare to celebrate, we begin with death, the death of Jesus on a cross, and our own death in the future. To know what death is we can catch a glimpse of what resurrection is, life’s completion. Easter calls upon us not to believe simply in Jesus’ resurrection, but in resurrection. It is neither a recurrence nor a reviving. It is death, burial and life completed. —Steven