What was it like?

I’ve often wondered what it would be like to come back from the dead.
Have you?
Coming through death and out the other side.
What must that have been like?
Was it sudden and violent like someone crashing through a window?
Was it like a spacecraft re-entering the atmosphere with all that turbulence, heat and friction?
Did he experience shock and trauma?
Was Jesus disoriented as his eyes adjusted to the darkness of the tomb and he wondered where he was.
Did the force of that reawakening barge the stone out the way or did he have to wait for the Angels in the tomb listening once more to his own breath, fascinated by the physical sensation of filling his lungs once again?
Was he aware of the spiritual sonic boom that shook the earth, tore the curtain and opened the graves such was its energy and force?

Or was it all more subtle than that?
Not a rude awakening but a slow stirring.
Life flickering back into being like a computer rebooting after its crashed.
Synapses re-firing as the brain switches back on and memories return.
A pulse felt as the heart started beating.
A finger jerking as the nerves came back to life?
When did feeling come back into his body? Perhaps he was paralysed to begin with as feeling returned slowly but surely and he just lay there on the slab.
Maybe resurrection is more like pushing your way through cobwebs, the membrane stretching as you push through before gradually you emerge, in much the same way a moth drags itself free of its chrysalis?

I wonder too what was going through his mind.
Was the harrowing of Hell an extraordinary conscious high?
Was coming back into this world an exhilarating rush that provoked a cry of triumph and joy like the ultimate descent down a mountain after the exhausting climb up?
Was it disorienting, frightening even, to be dragged from one mode of existence to another, or, as he left his broken, battered body behind, was he finally able to employ his divinity to the full and run rampant around the domain of death?
Was he confident and sure of himself or bewildered as death came and went?

How did he feel about his resurrection body? So clearly out of place, before it’s time.
Having just experienced the agonies of torture and execution there must have been some sense of almost wanting to retreat into this new flesh, without pain, just enjoying the moment.
Did he try it out to see what he could do, like Superman or Neo from the Matrix?
Would he have looked at himself in a mirror if he could?
Was he fascinated by the wounds that remained? Did he put his fingers in first before he asked Thomas to do the same?
Did he laugh out loud at the audacity of the divine plan and the fact that Father, Son and Spirit had pulled it off against all the odds?
They had played Satan at his own game and found him out. There must have been a ‘wow, we did it!’ moment don’t you think?

What must it have been like to meet his friends again?
To observe them run into the tomb from behind an olive tree.
Peter and John competing with each other to be the first to see, the first to believe.
Was Jesus apprehensive?
Was he worried about their reaction?
Would they be angry with him for putting them through all of that?
And for what?
He was alive again!
What was it like when he saw the women flee, terrified by a tomb without a body?
What was it like not to be recognised?
Did Jesus play along on the road to Emmaus; enjoying his new found anonymity?
Did he develop a taste for the theatrical, dramatically exposing himself in the bread and giving his disciples heart attacks as he appeared, as if by magic, in the middle of a locked room, or when, because of his advice, they caught so many fish that everyone remembered the exact number!
Or was there a sense of loss, regret even, in the midst of the joy?
When he sees Mary weep. Surely he loved her as she loved him. Surely he wanted to comfort her. Yet when Mary wants to hold him, she can’t.
Did he wish it could be otherwise?
Did that new body leave him alone and distant from those he had come to love?
What was it like to be more real than reality itself?
Is that why he did such everyday ordinary things in the time left with his disciples? Cooking them breakfast, eating fish together.
Things weren’t that different…were they?
What must it have been like to experience such extremes of emotion; fear, terror, grief, amazement, doubt?
Imagine Jesus asking Thomas to stick his fingers into him.
It must have been a joy to see Peter jump into the waves to greet him, but he must have known a hard, difficult conversation was still to be had.

So you see, resurrection is no small thing, no private affair, no esoteric escape. The renewal of the cosmos took place in this one human being.
New creation erupted into creation in this human body.
This is an invasion, an insurrection, against the powers of death and hell in this world and nothing will ever be the same again.
What must it have felt like to be the first; the prototype?
What must it have felt like to know that you are that fulcrum moment, the hinge of history, to know you have changed everything forever?
And then to entrust that future to ordinary men and women like you and me?
To ask them to testify, to witness, to share what they have seen, in ordinary, everyday ways?
You see, ultimately what we are celebrating this Easter is not theology, it is history.
Cold hard facts, solid evidence, personal testimony, stories tell, passed down from generation to generation.
For me, there are times I don’t believe anything else, but I can’t escape this truth that once, one man really did punch through death and emerge out the other side.
Whatever it might have felt like, however it actually happened, it happened so nothing else will ever be the same again.


Forsaken? (A Good Friday meditation on Psalm 22:1-5)


I have been forsaken by God.
Do I even know what that means, how that feels?
He has forgotten me.
I have been abandoned.
I am being ignored.
He has left me for dead.
I feel so alone.
I am afraid and close to despair.
Is this how it all ends?
Is this my fate?
Have I got it all so wrong?
A groan wells up from within, not a whimper, literally, a bellow. It comes from the gut.
This is lamentation.
To lament is to groan.
But there is no resignation here.
Instead there is rage and resistance.
This is not how it should be.

There is resilience and a refusal too.
Despite a brass heaven, the bellows continue both night and day without rest.
There is no let up. No respite.
God may be deaf, but I cannot settle for silence. Not yet.
So my wide-eyed insomnia goes on. A statement of faith.
Surely there will be an answer, perhaps one day.
So I keep on asking.


This lament is a protest, make no mistake.
Why, why, why? There is a question that demands an answer.
Why do bad things happen to good people?
Why do they always happen to me?
Can I really say that God is good and God is great?
Isn’t it easier just to disregard God altogether?
Perhaps there is no why, it just is.
Atheism makes suffering so much easier. There is no meaning, no purpose. Stuff happens.
Why don’t I just own my own fate, my own suffering?
Why do I complicate matters with hope, with the possibility of deliverance, of salvation.
Anyway, do I even care about the why?
Does it help at all?
I don’t want an explanation; I want action.
I want my suffering to end.
I want my pain to ease
Don’t just sit there on your throne in heaven, do something.
There it is again – a prayer.
I know he is there.
If I’m honest, in forsaken moments, pondering the existence, or otherwise, of God seems an indulgence.
The question is not ‘are you there’ but ‘will you come and help me?’
He must act, like he has done before.


I remember. God was good once, and great.
It didn’t used to be like this. It used to be different.
In a place of slavery, of suffering and torment, God saved my people.
He rescued us. He gave us a new home.
We felt safe, we felt honoured by our God
How we loved him for it. How we trusted him.
Why is it God seems faithful in another age, in another place?
What happened? What went wrong?
Where is that liberation now? Where is deliverance; salvation, rescue?
Where is forgiveness and freedom?
I am desolate, abandoned, forsaken.
Is this deliverance?


Irresistible Obedience

This talk, part of the series ‘Irresistible: Jesus in the Gospel of Mark’ is called ‘Irresistible Obedience’ from Mark 14:12-42. In this talk I remind everyone that Jesus says if we love him then we’ll obey him, but recognise the truth that we all find obedience difficult. I suggest that it gets easier if we nurture a subversive imagination, employ visceral symbols and practice costly obedience.


Irresistible Servant

This talk, part of the series ‘Irresistible: Jesus in the Gospel of Mark’ is called ‘Irresistible Servant’ from Mark 10:32-45. In this talk I ask three questions: Are we playing it safe or following Jesus to Jerusalem? Is Jesus enough or have we done a deal with God? In what ways are we serving those around us or are we just expecting others to serve us?


Irresistibly Glorious

This talk, from the series ‘Irresistible: Jesus in the Gospel of Mark’, is called ‘Irresistibly Glorious’ from Mark 9:2-13. In this talk I ask how we can renew our sense of wonder and awe. I argue that, because of the person of the presence, we no longer need protection from the presence, so can enjoy participation in the presence, the place where we really can encounter the glory of God and recover our wonder.


Irresistibly Clean

This talk from the series ‘Irresistible: Jesus in the Gospel of Mark’ is called ‘Irresistibly Clean’ from Mark 7:1-23. In this talk I explore the notion of spiritual hygiene, the shift in the West from a culture of guilt to a culture of shame and the way in which a new identity in Christ located within the community of the church gives us everything we need to live an unashamed life.


Irresistible Faith

This talk from the series ‘Irresistible: Jesus in the Gospel of Mark’ is called ‘Irresistible Faith’ from Mark 5:21-43. I explore the stories of the healing of Jairus daughter and the healing of the woman subject to bleeding that Mark sandwiches together and map the journey Jairus and the woman make from fear to faith.


Irresistible Healer

This talk is part of the series ‘Irresistible: Jesus in the Gospel of Mark’. In this talk called ‘Irresistible Healer’ I explore the healing of the paralysed man from Mark 2:1-17 arguing that they came looking for a healing, see the seriousness of sin, the real sickness, before finding forgiveness, the real healing.


Room Without A Roof

This talk, from the series ‘What Matters to me’ is called ‘Room without a Roof’. In this talk I look at Paul’s advice to the Philippians in chapter 4:6-9. He encourages them not to live with a low ceiling but to live like a room without a roof. I explore how we can raise the roof and live in a completely different way.


Everyone Gets to Play

This talk, from the series ‘What Matters to Me’ is called ’Everyone Gets to Play’. In this talk I look at the anointing of David by Samuel in 1 Samuel 16 as the prophet bypasses all the obvious royal contenders and opts for the shepherd boy out in the fields. I introduce the idea that we are all leaders now; sheep from the front and shepherds from behind, before exploring the roots of the leader, the stem of the leader and the blooms of leadership.


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