If we are even to glimpse this new world, let alone enter it, we will need a different kind of knowing, a knowing which involves us in new ways, an epistemology which draws out from us not just the cool appraisal of detached quasi-historical or scientific research, but the whole-person engagement for which the best shorthand is “love.”
That is why, although the historical arguments for Jesus’s bodily resurrection are truly strong, we must never suppose that they will do more than bring people to the very questions faced by Peter, or Thomas, or Paul: the questions of faith, hope and love.
We cannot use some “objective” historical mode of knowing as the ultimate ground for the truth of Easter. To do so would be like someone who lit a candle to see whether the sun had risen.
All knowing is a gift from God – historical and scientific knowing no less than that of faith, hope and love. But remember, the greatest of these is love.
And by the time the power-brokers notice what’s going on, Jesus’s followers have set up schools and hospitals; they have fed the hungry and cared for the orphans and the widows. That’s what the early church was known for, and it’s why they turned the world upside down. In the early centuries the main thing that emperors knew about bishops was that they were always taking the side of the poor. Wouldn’t it be good if it were the same today?
Death is the last enemy, according to Paul…, and we live in a world that still deals in death as its main currency. If we claim Jesus as our contemporary, we claim to know and love the one who has defeated death itself, not with more death, not with superior killing power, but with the power of love and new creation.
Resurrection is thus not merely about a glorious future. It is about a meaningful present. That is what it means that Jesus is raised from the dead as the first fruits of those who slept.