By The Very Rev. Douglas Travis
“If for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.” (1st Corinthians 15:19)
“[T]o your faithful people, O Lord, life is changed, not ended; and when our mortal body lies in death, there is prepared for us a dwelling place eternal in the heavens.” (The Book of Common Prayer, p. 382)
A great deal resides upon our embracing that the resurrection of Jesus is true, that the tomb really was empty, and that Jesus truly appeared to his disciples. But we must be wary of thinking that by believing something which otherwise seems absurd (namely, that dead people rise!) we’ve somehow cut a bargain with God to secure our salvation. One does not bargain with God, even in believing the truth about God. All that we have – our selves, our souls and our bodies – is pure gift from God. The challenge is not to believe the absurd but to embrace with all our hearts the presence of the Risen One.
For in the power of the Holy Spirit the Risen One is still available, but we may not recognize His Presence. The first witnesses to the resurrection did not always recognize the One in their midst. We do not know how long the conversation on the road to Emmaus lasted, but it was obviously more than just a few minutes. Luke tells us that Emmaus was seven miles from Jerusalem, and the unrecognized Jesus had sufficient time to interpret “to them the things about himself in all the scriptures.” This had to have taken quite a while! And yet, even though the speaker was engaging enough to hold their attention for several miles and elicit from them an invitation to stay for supper, they did not know who they were talking with until . . . .
He “took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them.”
In the power of the Holy Spirit the Risen One is still very much with us, especially in the meal he himself established for your sake and mine. The challenge is not so much to believethis as it is to know him. In coming to know him one cannot but believe!
What does it mean to “believe” in the resurrection? What does it mean to trust in the resurrection?
How can we know the Risen Lord?
O God of the Risen Lord, assure me of your Presence that I may know you, trust you, and always walk with you.
The Very Rev. Douglas Travis is President and Dean of the Seminary of the Southwest in Austin, Texas.