Key Text

Mark 16:1-8

When the sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him.

And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb. They had been saying to one another,"Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?" When they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had already been rolled back. As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man, dressed in a white robe, sitting on the right side; and they were alarmed. But he said to them,"Do not be alarmed; you are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has been raised; he is not here. Look, there is the place they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him, just as he told you." So they went out and fled from the tomb, for terror and amazement had seized them; and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.

cited from the NRSV

Image of the week

April 7, 2005

The Resurrection of Christ

Cappella Sistina
Hendrick van den Broeck (1519-1597)
Scenes from the Life of Christ:
The Resurrection of Christ (H)

original link

For last week's image (31 March, 2005), click here.


Present Context

For Reflection

This image of the resurrection from the roof of the Sistine Chapel shows Jesus emerging in triumph while the guards cower in fear. It is a wonderful theological statement of the triumph of Christ over death, but it lacks for historical reality.

None of the gospels record the event of Jesus being raised, only the consequences and the aftermath. It comes as a surprise in the morning, and is discovered in retrospect. This wonderful miracle took place in the darkness, outside the vision of humanity.

While we do well to celebrate the victory, we need to remember its context: in the midst of darkness and disciples' despair. It's discovery raises questions and invokes fear (note the reference by Mark to the women's fear, not the guards!). What does this mean?

How we read the resurrection reflects the work of God through history: often in the unexpected time and place, in the midst of darkness, out of view, and discovered with hindsight.

The meaning of the resurrection was not immediately apparent to the women, or to the disciples. Its implications, with its reality, were in a dark place to be discovered. Is its meaning any more apparent to us, inasmuch as it bears life consequences for us?

As Christians, we are called to live in the light of this eighth day (of Holy Week) reality.

We pray: As we celebrate and commemorate the resurrection, we affirm its wonder and mystery. The resurrection brings transformation of everything we ever considered possible.

Lord, help us to discover the resurrection afresh, and live in the light of this all-transforming reality, continuing to trust you in the darkness of uncertainty and despair.