We may wonder whether the
Resurrection was an historical event. While it is incorrect to affirm every
detail of the New Testament post-Resurrection accounts of Jesus as if they
could have been photographed, it is equally mistaken to declare them all as
subjective products of spirited fantasy or inner conviction. The
post-Resurrection passages include actual persons, places, and incidents that
could have been videotaped, among them Thomas, other disciples mentioned by
name, a place of burial, and the Risen Christ himself. These passages also
contain or imply wonder-filled meanings beyond the range of any human or camera
lens. Within and beneath the Easter texts, whether statements referring to
photographable incidents or metaphors based on a unique event, is this central
Christian discernment: that at an actual time and place of the Creator's
own choosing, God's intention for humanity (God's "Word" for everyone - Jew and
Gentile alike), embodied in Jesus the Christ, was born, ministered to many, was
wrongly executed for treason by the Roman government, and was raised from death
in a transfigured, exalted form unknown to us. Jesus "entered a new order of
life: one which does not and cannot occur as part of the present order of
things."1 "...the resurrection of Christ was
an objective event but of an unusual kind. Although it was not simply an event
in the minds of the disciples, yet it was not publicly observable. Christ
appeared only to chosen witnesses."2 In the
New Testament the Resurrected Christ is depicted with "a body identical yet
changed, without the usual limitations of the flesh yet capable of manifesting
itself within the order of the flesh."3
Thus, the Resurrection was an historical happening - even though the physics of
this "divine surprise" is beyond our knowledge. The meanings of the
Resurrection are preached virtually every Sunday.
(1) Norris, Understanding
the Faith of the Church, p. 137.
(2) Thomas, Introduction to
Theology, p. 226.
(3) quoted by Thomas, ibid.