I have often wondered why there wasn’t a bit more fanfare around the first Easter. An empty tomb is notable only to those who go see it. First the woman disciples go and see and after them, some of the men. It’s a low key resurrection.
An appearance in the Temple or Herod’s place by the resurrected Jesus would have gotten a lot more notice. But that sort of event has an uneasy echo of the temptations from earlier in the gospels. It’s not an exact correspondence, but there’s an echo here of the temptations- do something dramatic at the Temple, take all the kingdoms and their splendor, perform a self serving miracle. But Jesus doesn’t perform a self serving miracle on the cross- despite the request of those passing by. Jesus stays faithful to God’s ways, and doesn’t worship the devil. And he doesn’t show up in the Temple.
From start to finish, Jesus’ time on earth was low key. Yes there were crowds, but recall how often Jesus left the crowds behind and went alone into the wilderness.
A grand post resurrection appearance at the Temple or in a palace isn’t Jesus’ way. I think that’s because that sort of action is manipulative. It’s showy and dramatic. It gathers a crowd that can be easily persuaded with dramatic flair. The kingdom of God doesn’t arrive using flash and manipulation. It doesn’t rely on people being swept up in the excitement of a crowd. It doesn’t depend solely on emotions. It doesn’t coerce or intimidate.
Instead, the resurrected Jesus does what Jesus always did. He talks to people. He feeds people. He forgives people. Jesus never seemed to be too concerned about numbers. If a big crowd showed up, say five thousand- he fed them and taught them. But if one person cried out, Help me! Jesus stopped and helped them. Jesus had time to have dinner with people. He talked to people, the woman at the well, Nicodemus, you can name others.
It seems that individuals are what matters before the resurrection and in the post resurrection stories individuals continue to matter. We have a tendency to pay attention to the stories where there are big numbers. We are a culture that loves big numbers. But there a many more stories in the gospels with just a few people in them.
I wonder what’s going on in these small stories. I wonder what they have to show and to tell us about the Kingdom of God.
The Easter season is fifty days, we have time – plenty of time to think about these small post resurrection stories and wonder what they mean for us. Over these 50 days, I’ll be offering some reflections on the post resurrection stores.