1 Cor. 15:1-11
“Do not be alarmed; you are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has been raised….And going out they fled from the tomb, for trembling and ecstasy had seized them, and they said nothing to anyone for they were afraid.”
“Do not be alarmed; you are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has been raised.” But they were alarmed—so freaked out, they fled the tomb in ecstatic fear and said nothing to anyone. They were terrified: the dead man was alive again. Moreover, they would see him in Galilee. How would that go down?
Don’t be alarmed? Who’s the young guy think he’s fooling? Maybe angels are that cool. Maybe, like Spock, they have ice in their veins. But even Vulcans die. Check out Leonard Nemoy: way cool though he was, he’s spending this Easter on the down side of sod. But, then, what if he were no longer dead? Suppose when you turn to share the peace this morning it’s Spock there beside you: cool as an Easter angel, flashing his Vulcan salute. “Peace to you,” says Spock. “Don’t be alarmed,” he says, “They’re gonna beam us up.”
But that’s the thing. Maybe Nemoy got beamed, but Jesus didn’t. Here’s the thing about Christ’s resurrection: on the third day, they didn’t beam Jesus to the warp-speed safety of a star ship. They didn’t zap-tingle him into some distant galaxy, a hidden dimension of the multi-verse.
The risen Jesus didn’t skip off to a perfect paradise like Andromeda 3 or Telexis 7. That’s what I would have done. And so would’ve Bones McCoy, James Kirk, O’Hara, and Spock. That’s what we’d do too. A little well-deserved R and R seems appropriate following the week Jesus had. Passion Week’s no picnic: handed over to the authorities, rejected, abused, humiliated, tortured, and killed. Who couldn’t use a little beam up after that?
Get some rest. If you haven’t got your health, you haven’t got anything. Take it easy. Take a break. Take five. Kick back. Relax. Enjoy. You deserve it. Pamper yourself. A little post-redemption down-time. But this angel’s no trekkie. He says, “Go, tell his disciples and Peter that he goes before you to Galilee.”
Galilee? Imagine Spock risen from the grave, and the first thing he wants is you to see him in Kronos—the dead center of Klingon territory. Galilee’s no place for rest and relaxation. It’s the center of revolution, a borderline Gentile nightmare (Galilee of the Gentiles!), a down-home zone fraught with constant struggle.
“Go tell his disciples and Peter that he goes before you to Galilee.” But resurrection’s not supposed to include ordinary Galilee. Galilee’s the routine we know: life in the shadow of death. Galilee is all who have lived and all who have died. We try to remember them, but we can’t. Their number’s too vast. Trying to remember all the dead is tantamount to what God said to Abraham: “look at the stars and number them if you are able.” Abraham wasn’t able; and, despite our telemetric advantage, neither are we. Numbering the dead would be like counting the grains of sand on the earth. It can’t be done. Numbering the grains of sand, counting the stars, like counting the hairs on our head, is like, well, it’s like raising the dead: impossible.
Impossible for us, but not for God. For God, all things are possible. The Christ who heads to Galilee is the very One who says we are each known by the God who made us. That sounds like wishful thinking. How could anybody know everybody? Impossible. But Jesus goes further: Not only are we each known to our Creator, the Father even numbers the hairs on our head.
Of course, that’s ridiculous; impossible. Yet, like the resurrection of the dead, it’s impossible for us, but not for God. Jesus isn’t a professor of science, or a super-hero, or even a philosopher of logic. He’s more complex than that. Jesus is science. Christ is the hero of loss, the Logician of impossible. He’s the Logic of life through death. He’s the Lord of loss as gain; the Prince of power in weakness. He’s the Knowledge of unknowing to know, the Science of less as more; the Least forever more than all.
Easter is more than entertaining diversion, a break between games, the televisual soft of non-speak. Far from soft, resurrection is the hard word of Galilee; the Compass of death into Life, the forever Feast of death’s death: “On this mountain the Lord of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wines …. And he will swallow up death forever.”
The Risen Christ skips not the light fantastic. He skips nothing. He goes to Galilee, goes ahead into real life, the struggle of life fraught with death. He goes not to a luxury star ship or an exclusive club, but to mundane Galilee, where everyone has gone before. And more: Christ gives a feast for all peoples. A feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wines…for all peoples. For all peoples? Is that even possible? Christ is the impossible made actual.
In the deadliest of places (Earth!), the Risen Lord holds the crown-jewel of feasts, the Easter meal of Christ’s own body and blood. We eat and drink him: the fruit of eternal life. Christ swallows death forever. He consumes our death, even as we swallow him. Easter brings ecstatic terror. The terror of life beyond death. Since Christ has been raised, what’s left to beam up? Christ is risen. Easter beams down. Alleluia!