Early in the morning, deflated and full of sorrow, they make their way to the tomb to prepare his body. A body that was beaten and torn almost beyond recognition. They had watched it happen with their own eyes, and now it was time to properly attend to him. But, when they arrive, nothing is as they expect. There is no stone in front of the opening. There is no broken body in the tomb. There is a stranger dressed in white, who offers them the first-ever proclamation of the resurrection, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen; he is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee.”
Jesus does not wait around the tomb to greet the women in person, or leave a detailed note explaining himself, he sends a messenger to tell them what happened, and then charges them to tell the rest of the disciples. Jesus is selective about who he appears to after his resurrection. “There’s a bit of the doctrine of election at work here, where Jesus is showing up to those he’s elected to go out and proclaim the word,” says Rev. Ross Engel on this week’s episode of Ringside. Would not more people have believed if he had walked into the temple and confronted the high priests, or appeared to Pontus Pilate, or Caesar? “Scripture is always driving back to the word itself, and not the seen,” according to Rev. Paul Koch. “I don’t think it’s a matter of making sure that everyone in the world can see him, and then that creates faith, but he’s choosing to appear so that the proclamation of the word would go forth, so that they would take up that charge to go out and tell others what they have seen.”
The necessity of the proclamation is often lost in our individualistic, emotion-driven culture. Jesus appears to the disciples so that they would go out and tell others. As Paul would later write to the church at Rome, “How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent?…So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” Jesus’ final instruction to his disciples were not to write it all down in a carefully worded, leather-bound, gold-gilded book that would sit behind bullet-proof glass in the Vatican one day. It was to “go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.”
That is why your Bible comes with a pastor. From that very first Easter where a young man in white proclaimed the risen Christ to the women in the tomb until last week, when my pastor stood in front of me, dressed in white, and proclaimed the same words, we need to hear the message. It is not enough to read the story, we need to hear that Christ was crucified, conquered death, and rose again for our sake. That despite my sinfulness, my salvation is secured, apart from and despite any of my own actions. That one day, I too shall rise as creation is remade. And that faith, comes from hearing.
This article is a brief examination of the “metaphorical and theological rugby match” that was this week’s episode of Ringside Preachers. Listen to Rev. Joel Hess, Rev. Paul Koch, Rev. Ross Engel, and Tyler the Intern as they duke it out over whether it’s hallelujah or alleluia, what the latest polls say about the decline of church membership and why we don’t care, how the women were better disciples than the men, and more on the full Ringside Preachers episode, “Resurrection: Seeing is Not Believing”
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