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post-easter thought experiment

Swiss theologian Hans Urs von Balthasar proposed this thought experiment:

Imagine a friend suffering a severe disease. Medicine can do no more for him. The doctors inform his widowed mother and us, so we gather for the final scene. The ventilator is removed; our friend grows weaker from lack of breath and whispers his final farewells. We hear the death-rattle. He expires and takes on the pallor of death. We bury our dead friend and leave for our homes, saddened and a bit disoriented.

Two nights later, at our dinner gathering, our dead friend suddenly joins us. It’s like he just returned from a brief but very important journey. He greets us by name. Weirdly, physical barriers like doors mean nothing to him.
How might you respond?

Likely stunned—incapable of knowing the appropriate reaction: shocked, fearful, overwhelming joy and wonder, disorineted? His being alive again shatters the boundaries of experience and strains psyches to the breaking point. Reality itself seems to be detonating around us. We wonder: Can this be real?

Then our friend shows himself to us a second time and a third, and again and again over forty days—perfectly whole and better than ever. He explains things as he used to do, eats with us, challenges us to be greater than we think we can be. Yet, he now seems to live in an additional dimension—thoroughly human but other-worldly.

By placing ourselves imaginatively in that situation today, we might begin to get some idea of what the friends of Jesus experienced on Easter Sunday and forty days following.

Slowly and haltingly, those who met the Risen One, and those who believed what His closest friends reported, came to understand that the now transfigured Rabbi Jesus
truly was the son of God. Jesus had returned from a journey to the realm of the dead. Death, relentless in its finality, was not final for Him. The Creator’s design for humanity “in the beginning” had been reclaimed by the Son of God for all who believe in Him and bound themselves to His cause.

R
eality suddenly became quite different to Jesus’ friends. Life no longer need end in death. History and every individual was invited into everlasting communion with the Creator.

What happened on Easter Sunday was the most explosive experience in human history, shattering everything known about human destiny. Before Easter, some of the philosophically inclined imagined an immortal human soul; a few others hoped for some kind of resurrection at the end of history.

But no one expected this.

For the Risen One was not a disembodied spirit: “
Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have.” And the Risen One was acting in history while simultaneously revoultinizing.

Jesus’ resurrection
transformed disciples into agents. All who believe are their heirs. We have the mission of bringing divine light to the shadowlands in which we live … temporarily. ~