Do you find your daily Bible reading and chat with God one of the great comforts in life? Does their routine and predictability contribute to their consoling quality? Yet, are there occasions when God’s presence pierces through, disturbing the quiet in a startling way? The ancients called such moments “thin places” because the veil concealing God had thinned, making God’s presence sensible to us—an awareness we once enjoyed before sin entered the world.
This is what makes the events of Easter so extraordinary, as God’s power pierces our world, overcoming sin and death. Easter is what you might call a great “thin place” in revealing God restoring, at every point, all that was lost through sin. Perhaps for this reason Scripture tells us that the gift of Christ is unlike the curse of sin (Rom. 5:15): for the power of the cross brings healing, reconciliation and life in its wake, reconciling all sin has destroyed. Christ’s sacrifice moves us beyond the curses noted in Genesis 3. What was the result of sin?
Whereas Adam and Eve enjoyed God’s sensible presence in the garden, the effect of sin was estrangement, distance, and a painful separation from God’s sensible presence. And, though our work in the garden was once pleasurable, harmonious and productive, now in a world of sin, our work is accompanied by sweat, toil and a battle with forces that resist us—the thorns and thistles. Most tragically, where once Adam responded with joy to a God-given companion, Eve, whom God declared an ezer (in Hebrew, a strong help—a term often used of God’s rescue), now, because of sin Adam seeks to rule over his spouse (Gen. 3:16). Though Adam and Eve enjoyed a shared dominion before the fall, now in a world of evil, humans domineer over one another. Even the most intimate relationship is, in a world of sin, filled with conflict and betrayal. Finally, whereas our human bodies were created to enjoy God, one another and our work, in a fallen world we encounter disease and ultimately death. We are, as Søren Kierkegaard said, a glorious ruin.
This is what makes Easter so astonishing! The gospels record how Christ rebuilds what sin had destroyed, because the gift is not like the curse. Notice it begins with a restoration of God’s sensible presence. Though Jesus was crucified, dead and buried, on Easter morning the tomb is opened, the grave clothes shed, and the risen Lord appears to the disciples. The risen Lordis God’s physical presence and he is first discovered in the garden—near the tomb—by Mary. She is the first to recognize and receive God’s consoling presence. Jesus then sends or commissions Mary to go to the other disciples. He tells her to “Go to my brothers and tell them ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God'” (John 20:17). Because Jesus sends Mary to the other apostles with news of his resurrection, she is called the apostle to the apostles. Though woman was the first to disobey God, yet in the new creation, woman is the first to experience the resurrection. The gift is not like the curse. God imparts value and worth to God’s image bearers beginning with a woman. Though females are not viewed as reliable witnesses, Mary is the first witness of Easter’s rebirth (John 20:11-18). God used a woman to serve as the firstwitness to the most significant fact in all of human history—Christ’s victory over sin and death. Notice this thin place is revealed first to a woman.
Jesus also appears to the other disciples. He passes through the thin membrane from God’s eternal world into theirs, appearing to the disciples behind closed doors. Again, his physical presence brings them great comfort. Christ gives them his peace and he breaths on them the Holy Spirit (John 20:19-22). Jesus commissions them just as God in Genesis had commissioned Adam and Eve to “be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it.” Christ also gives the disciples a spiritual authority to forgive or retain sin. Jesus’ disciples, both male and female, are emissaries of the gospel declaring and exhibiting God’s forgiveness and reconciliation equally. New life in Christ is as corporate as it is personal. Just as it was in Eden, in the New Covenant, God’s dominion is exercised equally through male and female image bearers.
As promised, God is mending what sin had destroyed. Our newness of life is lived out again, as a shared dominion of spiritual authority imparted equally upon males and females. And, women were the first to experience the thin place of Easter. They were the first to encounter Christ’s victory over sin and death. Easter has changed everything! The tomb is empty and Christ’s presence and power has come among us through the Holy Spirit. We are indeed an Easter people and Halleluiah is our song. Christ is risen! From all of us at CBE, we wish you an Easter filled with many “thin places.”