First Sunday after Easter
As I write this reflection this week, I wanted to express that though life is not easy, and there are doors which shut for no reason there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Though there might be pitch black in every direction and the feelings of helplessness, and loneliness might be creeping in there is hope in Jesus. So I write this first to set the stage so to speak, so the raw emotions that most certainly was present upon that first Sunday after the death and resurrection of our Lord and Savior, there might be clarity amongst all the religious noise of this Easter season.
“44 It was now about the sixth hour, and darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour, 45 for the sun stopped shinning. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. 46 Jesus called out with a loud voice, ‘Father into your hands I commit my spirit.’ When he had said this, he breathed his last” (Luke 23:44-46, Zondervan NIV 2002, p.1618).
Jesus often reminds us that the struggles we endure here on Earth, as flawed mortals, has less to do with our petty squabbles with each other, but has more to do with the war which is raging between our heavenly soul and our sinful flesh. It is not a physical war that we can use our five senses to protect ourselves against our aggressors, but rather it is a spiritual one which drains our energies making us change our minds and to give into temptation. Our bodies cannot win this war, because we were not created to win it as flesh and blood creatures within sin. Rather through our spiritual weapons made known to us as having absolute faith in God will the victory be realized. The death of Jesus was caused by physical torture, his fight however was not focused on the physical pain he endured rather the war of the soul. Our Lord and Savior died on the cross not to illustrate his so called dishonor of the Jewish faith but rather the willingness to sacrifice his life as a spiritual payment that would build faith in his true mission. Thus through Jesus Christ, and by emulating his example of perfect faith in our Father in heaven, within that very moment that he committed his spirit to God, did he then claim victory over Satan, reclaiming the world for all mankind.
“33We are going up to Jerusalem,” he said, “and the Son of man will be betrayed to the chief priest and teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death and will hand him over to the Gentiles; 34who will mock him and spit on him, flog him and kill him. Three days later he will rise” (Mark 10:33-34, Zondervan NIV 2002, p.1547).
This was the second warning of Jesus to his disciples describing in detail what was going to happen, in an attempt to prepare them. It proves that he knew what was to befall him, but he went to Jerusalem anyway. Jesus had so many other avenues he could have taken which would have spared him this horror, but his fight was not of the flesh, but of the spirit. His perfect faith in God, gave his mortal body the strength to face the final showdown between God and Satan.
“8 Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. 9 “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.” 10 Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only” (Matthew 4:8-10, Zondervan NIV 2002, p.1473).
Spiritually speaking, even though Jesus’s disciples had witnessed his many miracles, and professed with their lips their belief that he was the Messiah, their hearts where still empty and starving. Their souls were depleted and almost ready for the final miracle. Ironically none of them got it; none of them realized that Jesus was at war, he was fighting a battle to which none of them could see with their own eyes. None of them realized the severity of his actions and teachings until the very moment he appeared to them after Easter. I find myself thinking how hard it is to accept the fact Jesus knew of the absolute pain and indignity he was going to suffer and yet he still chose to carry on with it. So we can’t really fault his disciples who loved him as a brother and did not want to see him die. But we then must ask; if not Jesus then who would have faced Satan, faced the cross? The real question is who else could have?
“3 He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces, he was despised, and we esteemed him not. 4Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. 5But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him and by his wounds we are healed” (Isaiah 53:3-5, Zondervan NIV 2002, p.1473).
During his trial and flogging he remained amazingly silent. He was neither defiant, nor was he smug about his actions, his mission, but amazingly humble, accomplishing this feat with precision and grace, with unearthly mercy. Yet within his final words before he closed his eyes on the cross, Jesus’s disciples where in hiding, crushed by the world, their faith dashed their souls depleted. There defeat was so absolute that even Mary Magdalene could not believe her own eyes when she saw the tome empty even though Jesus told them of this miracle. It took Jesus himself to appear before they all believed. As the word spread through the city of the miracle, still those who heard but had not yet seen Jesus could not believe. I am quite sure his disciples where recounting every word Jesus had ever spoken to them. I am sure they all felt guilty that they could not have faith in him enough to not doubt it. The words which must have rang in their minds the most before Jesus appeared to them was;
“Fortunate are the eyes that see what you are seeing. Many prophets and kings wished to see what you now see and never saw it, longed to hear what you now hear and never heard it” (Lost Gospel Q, Q33, p.67).
We celebrate Easter because that is when our sin debt was paid in full. I write about this first Sunday after Easter so that we will remember how empty our souls where as the hunt for our risen Lord began. The miracle that is Jesus, that was his resurrection, his absolute faith in our father that was revealed and proven. Even unto the very moment of his death his soul was not depleted, but from time to time ours is, so this is but one reason why we need him. I write about this first Sunday after Easter to also illustrate how God planned this event, how Jesus obeyed our Father, how we came to believe.
“A week later his disciples were in the house again and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you!’ 27 Then he said to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.’ Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!’ Then Jesus told him, ‘Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen me and yet have believed” (John 21:26-29, Zondervan NIV 2002, p.1671).
If you have been moved by this blog I humbly invite you to leave a message telling me your thoughts and how this reflection has touched you. May peace and love be with you all the days of your life. May God keep you and bless you. Amen.