The Mystery of the Resurrection
So they drew near to the village to which they were going. He acted as if he were going farther, 29 but they urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, for it is toward evening and the day is now far spent.” So he went in to stay with them. 30 When he was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed and broke it and gave it to them. 31 And their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And he vanished from their sight. 32 They said to each other, “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?” 33 And they rose that same hour and returned to Jerusalem. And they found the eleven and those who were with them gathered together, 34 saying, “The Lord has risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!” 35 Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he was known to them in the breaking of the bread.
36 As they were talking about these things, Jesus himself stood among them, and said to them, “Peace to you!” 37 But they were startled and frightened and thought they saw a spirit. 38 And he said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? 39 See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me, and see. For a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” 40 And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. 41 And while they still disbelieved for joy and were marveling, he said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?” 42 They gave him a piece of broiled fish, 43 and he took it and ate before them. Luke 24:-43
We’ve had the privilege of seeing the Oberammergau Passion Play two times. Both times it was impressive and impactful. The talent of the people of this small town in Germany is amazing. That they put so much of themselves into the pageant is noteworthy. The scope of the drama is matched by the size of the hall and the grandeur of the sets.
I remember especially the ending of the play in regard to Jesus’ resurrection. There was an almost mystical nature in the portrayal of Jesus’ actual bodily resurrection. There was myst. There was subdued lighting. Mary and Jesus had an interchange. But it was not portrayed in the same manner as Jesus’ teaching, miracles, or suffering and death. It made me wonder whether the producers and directors thought that Jesus had risen bodily from the grave.
On the one hand you can’t blame them. I’ve not seen a depiction of Jesus’ resurrection in any manner that looks real or genuine. Either people are gawking at Jesus, not knowing what to say or Jesus is not depicted at all. The best I’ve seen is as though Mary is coming from the inside of the grave. We’re seeing things from her perspective, and there’s a bright light shining into our eyes. She says, “Master?!?”
Even the disciples have trouble grasping the reality of Jesus’ bodily resurrection. Jesus has to convince them himself. He says, “See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me, and see. For a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” 40 And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet.” Then to cap it off he asks for something to eat and eats a piece of fish it before their very eyes.
I’m not sure I really understand Jesus’ bodily resurrection. I confess belief in it each Sunday. “I believe in the resurrection of the body,” we say in the Apostle’s Creed. That’s based on Jesus’ bodily resurrection which we also confess in the Creed, “the third day he rose again from the dead.” How that’s possible, and what it looked like remains a mystery. But just because something is a mystery does not mean it’s untrue.
I believe in the resurrection of the body, and look for the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come. It’s a mystery. And I believe it.