- The Washington Times - Monday, May 8, 2000

"The Resurrection is God's 'yes' to Jesus Christ." When theologian Karl Barth said this, he meant that the Resurrection is God's way of affirming everything that Jesus was, said and did in His earthly life. Or to put it even more simply, "If you would see Me, look at Him."
We often speak of the central miracle of the Christian faith as the Resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth. It is not. The central miracle is Jesus Christ himself. He is model, teacher and exemplar for each and every one of us.
For no church is this more true than for the Episcopal Church. Sometimes accused of sitting on both sides of every fence, of being more an ethos or liturgical style than a church of doctrine, we Episcopalians are convinced of one thing: Jesus is the revelation of the mind and will of God to us.
"Prove it," you might say, and I think I can. Our church is no stranger to internal dissent and conflict. Both conservatives and liberals have flown in the face of the doctrinal and sacramental teaching of the church. Most recently two conservative American priests, without following the due process of this church, were ordained as bishops in Singapore.
Their goal? Serving disaffected congregations in this country. Their action ignores completely the sacramental order and discipline of the Episcopal Church.
We are no stranger to doctrinal conflict. But when a bishop once said that Jesus Christ was no different from Santa Claus, that was too much. He was tried for and convicted of heresy in 1924. One of his quotations will suffice: "Gods in the skies Jesus, Jehovah, Allah, Buddha are all right as subjective symbols of human potentialities [just as] Uncle Sam in the Capitol and Santa Claus in a sleigh are all right as such symbols. But such gods are all wrong, if regarded as objective realities."
That just isn't our teaching. The Incarnation that God became fully and truly human in Jesus Christ is the core doctrine and ultimate miracle in our tradition.
It is the full humanity of Jesus of Nazareth that St. Luke passionately defends in today's Gospel [Luke 24: 36-48]. To us it seems a strange story of Jesus' coming back from the grave and eating fish with His disciples. That kind of thing just doesn't happen in normal households. It stretches the very limits of our credulity. Or does it?
Sixty-nine percent of Americans believe in angels, 46 percent believe they have a guardian angel, and 32 percent have felt an angelic presence… . Surely it is much more of a leap to believe in angels than it is to affirm that because of who Jesus of Nazareth was, God raised Him from the dead.
What kind of body was this body of the risen Jesus? Seemingly when He appeared, He was not immediately identifiable. When He appeared to Mary Magdalene, for example, she thought He was the gardener. Yet the disciples were at pains to indicate that He wasn't a ghost. Nor was He an escapee from a tomb, limping along for a final few hours. He was, according to the oldest tradition we have, a spiritual body: the risen Son of God, different but ultimately identifiable. What Luke is trying to do here is twofold. Writing as the only non-Jewish contributor to the New Testament, he is first telling his fellow Gentiles not that Jesus was immortal, or wrapped back up in some great force or soul. Luke is proclaiming the absolute bedrock belief of the early church that God raised Jesus from the dead. Even more importantly, Luke emphasizes the full humanity of Jesus so that we can model our lives upon a real person and follow Him… .
It was the depth of Jesus' humanity, compassion and utter faithfulness to God's will that led to His Resurrection: This Resurrection was God's yes to Jesus Christ; God's way of saying, "If you would see Me, look at Him."
Next week: a sermon by the Rev. Fintan Sheeran at St. Margaret of Scotland Catholic Church in Seat Pleasant, Md.

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