When Jesus met Adam and Eve
Rowan Williams reflects on the Easter Story – as told by an icon
For some people, when they first encounter an icon of the resurrection, it’s just a little bit puzzling. There is Jesus descending to the dead, taking Adam and Eve by the hand, surrounded sometimes by prophets and kings of the old covenant. And it seems rather a long way from the resurrection narratives in the Gospels. Surely the resurrection is about those precious moments of personal encounter between the risen Jesus and his first disciples?
However, here in Icon of the Resurrection (pictured), we’re taken into another realm, another frame of reference. That is what an icon does: it takes you to the inner story, to the bedrock of what’s going on. And what this icon says to us is that the bedrock of what is going on in the resurrection of Jesus Christ is the remaking of creation itself.
Here are God and Adam and Eve: this is where it all began and this is where it begins again. The resurrection is not the happy ending of the story of Jesus: it’s the story of the word of God speaking in the heart of darkness to bring life out of nothing and to bring the human race into existence as the carriers of his image and his likeness.
That is what happened on Easter Sunday and what happens whenever Easter is re-enacted, commemorated afresh in the life of the believing community. It’s why so often in the early Church – and today in the Eastern Church – Sunday is thought of as the ‘eighth day’ of the seven-day week. It’s the start of the new world because it’s the day of the resurrection of Christ…
Rowan Williams is the former Archbishop of Canterbury. This article is an extract from God With Us: The meaning of the cross and resurrection then and now (SPCK, 2016, ISBN: 9780281076642, bit.ly/spckgwu)
This is an extract from the April 2017 edition of Reform.