Tuesday, April 6, 2010

He Saw and Believed

I like Easter but not like I LOVE Christmas. I should LOVE Easter. I should be jubilant, celebrating the resurrection of Jesus. He is Alive I should be greeting others with just as I Merry Christmas to everyone I see in December. Easter should be a great party. It was Jesus' resurrection that made gave the Christmas story its meaning. Without the resurrection, Christ's birth would be that of a great teacher, maybe worthy of a holiday of the MLK Jr or Columbus Day. A day off for banks and some shopping, maybe a special news segment about the history of the holiday but that would be it. Jesus was a great teacher, a miracle worker but without his resurrection that would be the end of the story.

I imagine that is what the disciples were thinking after Jesus' crucifixion. I imagine they were mourning the death of a great prophet, a great leader, a great friend on the first Easter morning. They were probably mourning the death of a great cause that gave their lives such incredible meaning. Even though Jesus had told them that after three days he was coming back again, they were not at the tomb waiting to see him alive. The women, fervent followers of Jesus, who got to the tomb first were going there to finish the embalming and burial process. They were expecting to find Jesus' dead body. Mary Magdalene goes to get the disciples, tell them of the empty tomb.
So Peter and the other disciple started for the tomb. Both were running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. 5He bent over and looked in at the strips of linen lying there but did not go in. Then Simon Peter, who was behind him, arrived and went into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there, as well as the burial cloth that had been around Jesus' head. The cloth was folded up by itself, separate from the linen. Finally the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went inside. He saw and believed. John 20:3-8
Like the disciple, it was not crucifixion but the resurrection that defines Jesus. "He saw and believed." Can you imagine how much deeper his pain must have been once he believed that Jesus was who he had said he was. When John, the disciple, realized that the world had cruelly tortured and killed the son of God. They killed God. And yet, God loved his children so much that He was willing to humble himself, accept their anger and violence, submit to the laws and punishments of this world. And in the end, Jesus was victorious. He rose from the dead just like he said.

I think this is why I have trouble celebrating and getting all holidayish about Easter. Because while I am so incredibly grateful for Christ's death and resurrection for me, I am also so saddened by what we did to him on that day. And how we continue to mistreat him day after day. His resurrection points so clearly to his death, to our cruelty, to our sin, to our need for Him.

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