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Dave Brisbin

Among the Living

What is the meaning of the Resurrection?

Christians are all over the map, fighting and debating not so much that Jesus is risen and still lives, but how and for what purpose. Ultimately, such questions are a matter of faith, but where can we look for guidance? Scripture, of course. The gospels show us where to look, what’s important to see. While we focus on the supernatural miracle, fighting over what can never be proven historically, the gospels focus on the effect the Resurrection had on Jesus’ first followers—not the Resurrection event itself.

This is a huge distinction.

The Resurrection happens offstage, and the story picks up afterward, following the tiny, unspectacular reactions of a few of Jesus’ closest friends. It tells us not to look at the miracle so much as how the miracle affects our own lives. The meaningful question isn’t whether or how we believe in the miracle, but what difference it makes that we believe. What can the reactions of Jesus’ friends teach us about that difference?

Not one of Jesus’ followers recognizes him post-Resurrection. They interact with him, sometimes for hours, as if with a stranger until an intimate and familiar gesture breaks the spell. We humans only know a person after experiencing intimate details over time, and Jesus’ friends had to re-experience that intimacy to prove his identity, a process of becoming ready to see a Jesus both intimately familiar and yet wildly changed. Same with us. The meaning of Resurrection is not out there in history or theological doctrines, but within us, in the most intimate details of our lives and relationships.

When the women come to the empty tomb to anoint Jesus’ body, they are asked why they seek the living among the dead. Again scripture is telling us where to look. Set beliefs are snapshots—static, motionless, dead—no longer among the living. If we keep the meaning of Resurrection in our thoughts alone, Jesus is not there. Like ruha—spirit, breath, wind—Jesus is always in motion, our motion. Among the living…that’s us, the living.

We find the risen Lord in each face and embrace, every moment of our lives. Or not at all.


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