“No More!” An Eastertide Meditation, Part 2 of 5

An Apologia: Eastertide or the Great 50 Days, running from Easter Day (this year, April 17) to the Day of Pentecost (this year, falling on June 5), grants an opportunity for a deeper dive into the mystery of the Christian claim of the resurrection of Jesus.

Some, rejecting the idea of a wrathful God (perhaps, too, the idea of God), liken the Easter story, in elementally human terms, to a metaphor with a moral. The crucifixion represents a noble human capacity to be faithful to the end; “to march into hell for a heavenly cause.”[1] And the resurrection, the right, fair result of faithfulness.

Problematically, this view, in effect, blesses bad things. To wit, every awful crucifixion-moment is a predictable, therefore endurable, even acceptable prelude to a joyful resurrection-experience.[2] But life isn’t like that. Human history tells far too many tragic tales of unrelieved suffering that ends only at death.

However, this notion of an almost causal connection between crucifixion and resurrection (that the former inevitably leads to the latter) persists…

Recently, I shared a difficult personal experience with a colleague. He replied, “Paul, you know it’s always darkest before dawn.” What struck me as insensitivity left me speechless. He then said, “Remember, before you experience resurrection, you have to endure crucifixion.” (Regaining my voice, I won’t repeat here what I said!)

Again, a traditional view of Easter of Jesus’ substitutionary sacrifice on our behalf raises questions. How can a death two thousand years ago – beyond the connection of our common humanity, beyond the poet’s awareness that “Any Mans death diminishes me, because I am involved in Mankinde”[3] – have anything to do with our lives today, let alone our eternal destinies?

To be continued…

© 2022 PRA

Illustration: Resurrection (1896), James Tissot (1836-1902)

[1] From the song, “To Dream the Impossible Dream.”

[2] Now, I do think that all suffering should have a happy ending. If I had designed the universe, that’s the way it would have been!

[3] From John Donne’s, Devotions Upon Emergent Occasions, Meditation 17.

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