In Peter Rollins’ book The Orthodox Heretic, there is a parable called “Being the Resurrection.” The parable describes a group of Jesus’ disciples who left Jerusalem after the crucifixion, before the resurrection, so they never knew of their Messiah’s resurrection and ascension. They travelled a great distance over many months until they found a place suitable to begin a community. A community, “where they vowed to keep the memory of Christ alive and live in simplicity, love, and forgiveness, just as he had taught them.” Over years, decades, and centuries, Rollins tells that, the community spent “their days reflecting on the life of Jesus and attempting to remain faithful to his ways. And all this despite the overwhelming sorrow in their heart, …despite the belief that death had defeated him and would one day defeat [them] also.”
One day, the communities’ isolation was broken when a group of missionaries reached the settlement. Rollins tells, “Without hesitation, the missionaries gathered together all the community members and recounted what had occurred after the imprisonment and bloody crucifixion of their Lord. That evening there was a great festival in the camp as people celebrated the news of the missionaries.”
During the evening’s celebration, a conversation occurred between a respected elder of the community and one of the missionaries. This elder was in sorrow, despite the great news that his Lord’s life had been vindicated through the resurrection and ascension. This elder, explaining his sorrow to the young missionary said, “Each day we have forsaken our very lives for him because we judged him wholly worthy of the sacrifice, wholly worthy of our being. But now, following your news, I am concerned that my children and my children’s children may follow him, not because of his radical life and supreme sacrifice, but selfishly, because his sacrifice will ensure their personal salvation and eternal life.”
This parable raises so many questions for reflection. Rollins says in his commentary on the parable, that in many ways the community, living their lives in a sort of extended Holy Saturday, described in the parable “affirmed the reality of the Resurrection in a more radical way than many of those who confess such a belief.” Too many Christians profess a belief in the resurrection, but their lives show no resemblance to the life of the Christ the resurrection was a vindication and justification of. How does the life you live reflect a belief in the resurrection of Christ? How are you living a life of resurrection? If Jesus’ life, as the Son of Man or the Human One, was lived as an example to show humanity its full potential, how is your life reflecting this potential as an image bearer, as part of the body of Christ, as someone who has been born again through water and spirit?
Use this Holy Saturday to reflect on the life Christ lived, and the sacrifice he made for us all. Finally reflect on how the example of his life and sacrificial death moves you towards a life of sacrifice, of taking up your own cross to follow him. Resurrection does not come to those who do not first die.