Rowan Williams on the Resurrection

The resurrection is in part about the sheer toughness and persistence of God’s love. When we have done our worst, God remains God — and remains committed to being our God. God was God even while God in human flesh was dying in anguish on the cross; God is God now in the new life of Jesus raised from death. But what is interesting about the stories of resurrection as we read them in the Bible is that they are not a series of general statements as to how the love of God is more powerful than evil or sin. They say that just as people met God’s absolute love in the face and presence, the physical presence, of Jesus of Nazareth, so they still do. They hear the call of God and encounter the mercy of God in the same face and form of Jesus — who, in the resurrection stories, does what he always did, calling the disciples to him, breaking bread with them, teaching them what the Scriptures say. The resurrection displays God’s triumphant love as still and for ever having the shape of Jesus. And this is why it won’t do to reduce the resurrection to something that was going on inside the heads of the disciples. If we go down that road, we lose sight of the conviction that seems so basic in the Bible, that the disciples meet a risen Jesus who is still doing what he always did, making God present in his actual presence, his voice and touch. I don’t see how we can say all that without taking seriously what the New Testament says about the tomb being empty on Easter Day.”

Rowan Williams


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