I’ve often wondered what it would be like to come back from the dead.
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.