Written from Jerusalem:
Walking through the narrow, winding streets of Jerusalem’s Old City on my first visit here in fifteen years, I was powerfully struck once again by the grittiness of Christianity, the palpable connection between the faith and the quotidian realities of life. For here, as in no other place, the believer, the skeptic, and the “searcher” are confronted with a fact: Christianity began, not with a pious story or “narrative,” but with the reality of transformed lives. Real things happened to real people at real places in real time—and the transformation wrought in those real people by those “real things” transformed the world.
The most transformative of those “real things” was the encounter with the Risen Lord Jesus, the one those real people had first known in this real place as the young rabbi Jesus from Nazareth. That encounter, and the radical transformation of lives that to which it led, remains, today, the greatest “proof” of the Resurrection. For how else would a ragtag bunch of men and women from the bleachers of civilization have found the commitment and courage to go out and change the world, had not something utterly unprecedented happened to them: something that shattered the boundaries of their expectations of the possible; something that demanded to be shared?
All that happened, just as the pre-Passion ministry of Jesus happened, amidst the daily give-and-take of life in the bazaar that the Middle East was, is, and probably always will be.