Plotting the Resurrection is a book written by E.B. White—in the book White observes his wife the autumn before her death and he observed her in the garden busily burying bulbs in the black earth “under those dark skies in the dying October, calmly plotting the resurrection.” That is a visual image powerful enough to remember for a lifetime: this remarkable women, entering the final season of her own life, yet convinced that an eternal spring will surely arrive for both her tulips and herself.
The secularist critique of the Christian belief in resurrection is that is “pie in the sky” that it ignores reality and that is glosses over the darkness and tragedy of life. But in reality the Biblical accounts do just the opposite. That is why we observe Good Friday as the darkest day in human history, why we read aloud the cowardice of the disciples, the betrayal of Judas, and the unbelief of nearly every follower who saw or heard about the empty tomb.
The Easter message is not about a God who saves us from pain and darkness, but about a God who is plotting victory in the midst of defeat, who is planting seeds in the darkness of winter. Recently the thought came to me that if you read the Bible carefully you discover that, for some reason, God chooses to bury things before resurrecting them. There is no reason why Jesus couldn’t have just come down off the cross after making the sacrifice for human sin instead of being buried. But God chose for Jesus to stay in the tomb three days, just as God chooses for the wheat seed or the tulip bulb to stay buried in the cold winter ground for a period before it germinates and grows.
Perhaps you have noticed in your own life that the sense of resurrection does not come easily. It often follows a period of despair, difficulty or hopelessness. New life springs out of the darkness of winter. The open tomb is how we know that our wintertime waiting is not hopeless or meaningless. If life has been unequivocally good and joyous to you recently, then I caution you to beware of missing or skipping over the Easter Message while distracted in your various pleasures. But if your like many and have entered into periods of tomb like despair, tasted defeat, loss, betrayal, despair, or are worried about your child or parent or marriage—then the Easter message for you is of highest priority. The Easter message is not about pie in the sky but about ordinary people who choose to “Plot the Resurrection” because of an extraordinary God whose promise of eternal life is rooted in Jesus Christ—who defeated the power of darkness, death, the devil, the guilt and shame of human sin. The one who was able to cry out from the Cross “It is finished.” Who dared to proclaim “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in Me, even if he dies, will live. Everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die—ever. Do you believe this? “ John 11:25 He told me to tell you!