Have you ever shown up on a scene where things were not as they appeared?
I have a good friend who saw her husband facing away from her in a church lobby. She snuck up behind him to put her hand on his hip and head on his shoulder (I am not 100% sure but for the sake of the story let’s say she whispered “hey babe” into his ear). It was a millisecond after having done so that she realized something was very wrong. Though the man was dressed like her husband, was the height of her husband, and had the same haircut as her husband…he was not her husband. He was a visiting pastor from out of town. Things were not as they appeared.
We are coming up to Easter and I have to admit I just can’t wait to get to Sunday – the resurrection. For us who know the whole story, we have the luxury of skipping ahead a page or two.
Stop for a moment and put yourself into the shoes of those women on that first day of the week back in Luke’s gospel. As they approached the tomb of Jesus, they were still scared and trembling from the sights and sounds of Friday. They had watched, from a distance, their master and rabbi suffering a cruel death on a Roman cross. They had waited patiently, sadly through the Sabbath before they could come and take good traditional care of the body. Now, the first day of the week, they rose early not because they were excited to go to Jesus’ tomb but they likely wanted to put this stage of grieving behind them. They carried spices for burial. The scene was still very heavy as memories of death events were expected to be replaced with a visible decaying body in burial clothes.
But things were not as they seemed or should be. Instead of dark hopelessness there was light coming from the tomb. The guards were gone, the stone covering the entrance was moved, and inside they found two men instead of Jesus. The men asked them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen” (Luke 24:5-6).
I underlined “he is not here” in my bible.
Friends that’s the way it is with Jesus. Circumstances can look bleak and dire and hopeless and confusing, but in the background Jesus is taking off the burial clothes and beating death. Political powers and religious tyrants have been trying for centuries to silence and force him into irrelevance. Read the news. But in some of the most bleak places on earth, the church of Jesus is vibrant and alive. Take a visit, show up, and your expectations may be rocked.
Afterall there is only so much humans can do to the Son of God. His enemies can torture him – his friends in fear can desert him, but Jesus will stay alone in death and darkness only as long as he chooses. No one kills the Son of God, because he lays his life down. He stays in the grave as long as he wants to. As long as was prophesied. Only as long as it takes to prove to every power and authority in the heavens and on earth, that He is the only Saviour who defeats death.
“I lay down my life, that I may take it up again. No one takes it from me…I have the power to lay it down and I have the power to take it up again.” (John 10:17-18).
The resurrection of Jesus changes the scene for us.
Does your reality force you to carry burial spices around with you today? I pray they are replaced with a face to face encounter with the resurrected Lord and Saviour of the world.
Where will we find Jesus this Easter?