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Seven Meditations on the Resurrection

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In the resurrection of Jesus, the God-Man penniless preacher from Nazareth, the world underwent a transformative shift.

The darkest day was not the final day. Death—a long-standing beast haunting the lands for millennia—was finally defeated. A new day has dawned, and now even the most tragic moments are latent with both possibility and potential.

Jesus, the one who was crucified, is now the risen one, and the singular event of history—flesh, blood, nail, cross, and empty tomb—resonates and radiates with both contemporary and enduring significance.

The resurrection of Jesus offers hope to those daily crucified by exploitation, domination, and subjugation, becoming a beacon of good news for the walking wounded in our cities, the homesick refugees grappling with trauma, and all those dehumanized by the grim forces of brutality and oppression.

This resurrection hope is found not simply in the promise of life after death but offers an invitation to see afresh that, in the midst of a tragic and broken world, the kingdom is here, the powers are defeated, and Messiah Jesus is the world's true Lord and King, serving as the first fruit of the new creation.

Hope whispers my name,

And speaks to my soul.

‘Rest a while,

I have a healing balm and will tend your wounds.’

I counter,

‘But have you seen the pain,

The poison runs deep,

The beasts run wild.’

And hope speaks,

And addresses my wounded heart,


I know.

The night is darkest just before the dawn.

On cursed tree,

Through whip and nail,

The evil of empire,

& the sickness of sin

sinned against me.

Alone in pain.

I breathed my last ‘

Downcast I spoke

‘The beast has won .

As hope lies silent in the grave.

In the book of life evil will have the last word’

And hope rejoiced

And laughed and sang,

A song of healing love,

‘My beloved one,

This is not true,

The grave did not win.

I was raised to life.

Evil does not have the last word.

Love wins’

And I wept,

And he wiped the tears from my face.

Hope embraced me in his love,

I beheld his face.

We danced

He is making all things new.

Meditation One

It was now about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour, while the sun’s light failed. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” And having said this he breathed his last. Now when the centurion saw what had taken place, he praised God, saying, “Certainly this man was innocent!” And all the crowds that had assembled for this spectacle, when they saw what had taken place, returned home beating their breasts. And all his acquaintances and the women who had followed him from Galilee stood at a distance watching these things.” (Luke 23:44–49, ESV)

But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared. And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men stood by them in dazzling apparel. And as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise.” And they remembered his words, and returning from the tomb they told all these things to the eleven and to all the rest. Now it was Mary Magdalene and Joanna and Mary the mother of James and the other women with them who told these things to the apostles, but these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them. But Peter rose and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen cloths by themselves; and he went home marveling at what had happened.” (Luke 24:1–12, ESV)

The horror and torture of Jesus reached its culmination. Dying alone, desecrated, one of the condemned, his body now lay lifeless in the grave. According to Luke’s Gospel, in the moment of his death, just before he cried out, 'Father, into your hand, I commend my Spirit,' darkness fell upon the entire land, and the veil of the temple was torn in two. Seeing this, the representative of the empire, one of the executioners, declared, 'Surely this man was innocent', and the crowds who had come to witness the brutal killing were transformed into mourners, beating their breasts.

Perhaps it was true that they did not comprehend the magnitude of their actions, but alas, a line had been crossed; there was no going back. In the public display of violence and domination, the innocent one faced brutality, butchery, death, and destruction as sin was sinned against him by the hell-bent powers of religion, empire, and the forces of domination.

Heaven, like the body of Jesus, is silent. The holy place, the temple, like the body of Jesus, is empty, without the breath of the divine. The world in which the one who is the light of the world once walked, like the tomb, is in darkness.

In our own day and age, the church bears witness to the crucifixion of the innocent at the behest of domination and oppression. The children in Gaza suffer and die for a crime they did not commit—bodies trapped under the rubble, maimed, wounded, lying dead on the floor of a bombed hospital—victims of extreme violence fueled and justified by religious and political ideology, as well as the myth of redemptive violence. The church has prayed for mercy, but heaven seems silent.

We feel abandoned  as suffering escalates. Like the women in the Gospel of Luke, the church, on the whole, watches from a distance, often with interpretations of actuality that have been sanitized by Western media.

Yet, some of our brothers and sisters stay, dwell, live, and die, contemplating whether they will become a statistic that some will rightly call a war crime. Darkness has fallen on the land, the curtain of the temple is torn in two. Heaven is silent.

And yet, however dark the night, a light of love still shines. God has not abandoned His world, our home, or our lives. In the crucifixion, we see that the God-Man enters into, inhabits, and participates in the pain of the world as a victim, a sufferer, forsaken.  However, in His resurrection, we see that domination, oppression, and the evil of empire do not have the last word. They may bring the sword, the cross, the missile, or the drone, but ultimate victory eludes them. Love will win, justice may yet prevail.

The women—the two Marys, Joanna, and the others—arrived early to anoint the body of Jesus, to do what millions of other women have also done: to tend to the body of a young man they love who has died as an outworking of violence.

They came to see the butchered body of Jesus, but they could not, as the Lukan evangelist tells us, find the 'Lord Jesus.' Instead, the realm of darkness and death was transformed by divine presence, with two angels appearing. In astonishment, they were informed they were searching in the wrong place- you don’t find the living amongst the dead—; He lives.  They are encouraged by these angelic messengers to remember the promises of God, the words spoken by Jesus when He said He would die but would also rise. And they remembered.

In the place of pain, grief, and sorrow, they remembered.

And perhaps here, we find some encouragement for own own souls full of sadness—an encouragement to remember the promise of the God-Man Jesus, a promise now sealed in His blood and stamped with the glory of His risen life. A promise that a new day, the first day of the new creation, has broken into the present. The old has passed; the new has come.

We now live in the overlap of the ages, the broken with the beautiful, the blessed with the cursed. But in the resurrection of Jesus, we know that one day all will be blessed and beautiful, and the curse, the sadness, the death, and the grief will be no more. Let us remember.

In the darkest of days, the act of remembrance—calling to mind and dwelling upon the promise of God found in the words and actions of Jesus—offers comfort. It is a looking back that transforms the present and provides a fresh imagination for the future—a link with the past that opens a path in the present to a future of resurrection and new creation. Remembering the Jesus story offers a counter-narrative to the stories of violence and domination—a remembrance that does not deny the reality of pain but looks back to one who went to the depths and darkness, showing that even if we make our bed in hell, there remains hope. A defiant hope, a counter-narrative hope, a revolutionary hope, that evil, injustice, and oppression will not have the last word. Let us remember.


Further Thoughts

Let us reflect on the phrase 'Why do you seek the living among the dead?' For the women, this question pertained to the appropriate location to search for their Lord and King. They were inspecting a tomb, a logical place to find Jesus if he were deceased, but an unsuitable one if he were alive. This question, however, holds challenging and liberating potential for contemporary followers of Jesus.

A moment of contemplation prompts consideration of where one looks for Jesus—in history, through reconstructions and rationality, and in the study of scriptures within their ancient context. However, the Jesus derived from these sources is a construct existing solely in the minds of those deeming the interpretation most plausible. While these reconstructions possess mythic influence to mold and shape disciples, they are distinct from the living Christ. At best, reconstructions serve as signposts, and not as substitutes for divine presence and actual holy encounter.

Yet, we are reminded of the divine angelic voices cautioning, 'Do not look for the living among the dead.' This message underscores the need for contemporary discipleship to turn to the living Christ, a distinct entity from a reconstruction. The tools for this search involve the heart—the mystical path of knowing, communing, and embracing.


Meditation Two

Death adamantly utters ‘no’ to the gift of life, mirroring the ‘yes’ spoken by the violence of crucifixion to the empire and brutality. Individual lives, crafting paragraphs of both joy and suffering, seemingly conclude with a resolute full stop. While memories endure, bodies—cremated, abandoned under rubble, or laid to rest—fall silent, their voices stilled, their songs silenced. The final curtain descends, seemingly extinguishing all hope, or when it does emerge, it's but an immature waking dream.

Yet, the Christian hope, firmly anchored in the life, work, death, and resurrection of Jesus, vigorously protests against such fatalistic views. The graveyard's silence, the ‘no’ to life, yields to the resounding ‘yes’ of heaven as Jesus proclaims, ‘Behold, I am alive forevermore.’ The final curtain proves not conclusive; the full stop merely a comma; the grand narrative of life persists. This ‘yes,’ made possible and actualized in Jesus the God-Man, empowers the Christian to defy the status quo, gaze unflinchingly at death and suffering, and, in humble revolutionary resistance, assert that the darkest day is not the final day.

Despite the evidence manifest in injustice, in the wreckage of bombed-out apartments, the rising seas, and the looming presence of empires of evil and injustice, the Christian, through Jesus, remains steadfast in the conviction that love triumphs. One day, just as resurrection points to new creation, all tears will be wiped away. This hope isn't a passive sentiment; it's an active force. As we pray for the coming of the kingdom, we are bestowed with the opportunity, in anticipation of that future day, to actualise and embody this hope in the present.

Artwork ’Appearance of Christ’ Ivanka Demchuk

Meditation Three

Hope is the tenacious refusal to accept the 'status quo' as the final word, and it whispers, or dare we say, shouts, a defiant protest against injustice, oppression, and domination.

For the Christian, this hope is inextricably bound up in the story of the crucified and risen God-Man, Jesus. His crucifixion portrays the horror of injustice and empire, and his subsequent resurrection demonstrates to the gods of this age that their days are numbered, and their beastly powers are neither eternal nor everlasting.

 Hope is a kind of looking back that awakens us in our present moment to the reality of a future that has already broken in—the presence of the future, acting as a down payment and guarantee, leading us into a future where the first fruits of resurrection will yield a new creation harvest.

Hope is a verb. Hope looks like something.

This hope isn't merely a silent yearning or fanciful daydream leading us to spiritual clichés, where we become so heavenly-minded that our impact on the social, political, or economic realms is minimal. Instead, this hope is an active force, woven into our lives, shaping communities that foreshadow the grandeur of the coming kingdom in the dawn of new creation.

Hope has a tangible appearance. In a world where wealth is stockpiled, hope directs us towards an egalitarian kingdom where everyone has plenty, and the hungry are fed. It embodies this vision by fostering communities and extending tables so that all may partake.

Hope has a distinct manifestation. In a world scarred by violence, toxicity, and domination, hope anticipates a definitive era of kindness and shalom. It strives to embody this ideal by practicing non-violence, showcasing the fruits of the spirit, and offering a transformative way of life.

Hope is not an abstract concept—it has a recognizable form.

Hope is a verb. Hope looks like something.

Artwork by Ivanka Demchuk ‘40 Days on Earth’

Meditation Four

Where is God?

Silent, in darkness, neither moving, nor listening nor speaking, His lifeless corpse is laid in the tomb.

God is dead, and in that moment, humanity seems cursed.

Cursed, as our hearts are restless in seeking the divine, but the divine is dead.

Cursed, as we seek immortality, but the grave cradles the giver of life.

The bloodied body of the God-Man begins to decay. Humanity, in a full display of violence, empire, and evil, has killed Him who is love embodied and entwined with extravagant mercy.

The brutality of violence and the cries of abandonment — 'My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?' — give way to the silence of Saturday.

And then, in glorious and holy mystery, the butchered body of the Galilean peasant is raised to life. The grave could not hold Him.

He lives, and a blessing of hope is poured upon frail humanity. There is always hope.

Meditation Five

“And he will swallow up on this mountain the covering that is cast over all peoples, the veil that is spread over all nations. He will swallow up death forever; and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces, and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth, for the Lord has spoken. It will be said on that day, “Behold, this is our God; we have waited for him, that he might save us. This is the Lord; we have waited for him; let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation.” (Isaiah 25:7–10, ESV)

“ And there shall be a time of trouble, such as never has been since there was a nation till that time. But at that time your people shall be delivered, everyone whose name shall be found written in the book. And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. And those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky above; and those who turn many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever. But you, Daniel, shut up the words and seal the book, until the time of the end. Many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase.”” (Daniel 12:1–4, ESV)

Isaiah, the prophet, and Daniel, the apocalyptic visionary, dared to imagine the unimaginable. They offered a vision of hope—a future in which death, the great tyrant of humanity, would be replaced by resurrection life.

Like a veil hanging over humanity, death will be removed. A day of salvation and a time of great trouble will give way to everlasting life, where God's covenant people will shine like stars.

This audacious hope, the great defiance, is part of our ancient advent hope. It finds fulfillment in Jesus, the God-Man, who dealt a death blow to death itself, guaranteeing a future where the dead shall be raised.

This is our story, our song—a joyful remembrance and patient longing foretold by the prophets, enacted by the Messiah, and to be embraced in the new creation.

It is a patient hope, an active hope, a hope-filled realism. It dares us to dream and live in a way that bears witness to the kingdom's glorious inauguration and acts as an eschatological signpost that points to the ultimate consummation and reconciliation of all things.

Meditation Five

‘Fear not, for I know you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for he has risen.’— The Angel, Matthew 28

Mary, known as the Tower (Magdala), and her companion, also named Mary, approached the sepulcher.

The tomb, a sanctuary of shadows where their hopes and dreams lay entombed, echoed with the death and silence of the one who proclaimed himself the resurrection and the life.

The world’s true light, now a decaying corpse.

They journeyed through the night, the day following the Sabbath—an unholy day which is repeated throughout history as countless women weep and mourn the loss of their beloved to the cruel injustices of empire and violence.

In the darkness, the dawn was pressing in; the kingdom of God was at hand.

Beside the tomb, guards stood watch over a sealed stone door, emblematic of both empire and brutality. Their presence acted as a preventative barrier to those seeking to hold the cold hand and stroke the brow of he who embodied love entwined with extravagant mercy.

Yet, yet, yet,

the crucified will not be forsaken;

heaven will not be silent.

The beast of death will not claim victory,

and violence will not have the last word.

The earth trembled, its very core awoken. The stone, the guardian of death, yielded to unseen forces and the guards, symbols of empire and violence, were now frozen in dread.

The Marys marveled at the unfolding mystery.

The unholy became holy, the normal usurped by the extraordinary—the apocalyptic inbreaking of the rule and reign of the Father acting in both space and time. The end is not the end, a new day has dawned and the beast of death has been defanged.

An Angel spoke :”Fear not, for the crucified one is no longer dead. Behold, he has been raised.

The darkest day was not the final day.

Love wins.

Jesus is Alive.

Amen, Amen, Amen.

- Swales, 2024

Painting: Three Marys at the Tomb

(c. 1410-26), attributed to Jan &/or Hubert Van Eyck


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