Surprise…

So many people have said it so much better than I can. But, that doesn’t stop me from wanting to jump in and say it all again – less eloquently perhaps, but no less heartfelt.

He’s alive!  The stunning reversal of Friday’s death and darkness.  On Friday I talked about entering into the pathos of Jesus’ death. Sunday is supposed to be a day of joy, of surprise, of newness, of openness, of awe. He is ALIVE! Jesus, the man who was dead, is dead no more. He lives. He breathes. The heart that grew still and cold beats once more. The blood that thickened in his veins now runs warm and fast. His toes crinkle. He sneezes. His chest rises and falls. He begins to sweat and itch and hunger and thirst.  John Updike speaks of the cells’ dissolution reversing, the molecules reknitting, the amino acids rekindling…  Down to the cellular level, Life has returned.

It’s too much for me to take in.

Why is that? I think that in my heart of hearts, it’s because I want it to be true so badly. But I am so afraid of getting hurt. I am afraid of fully committing to this belief because I fear what it will draw out of me, and what it will require of me.  I equivocate, hem and haw, and commit to it 95 percent, always keeping that bit in reserve so I can try and keep my heart safe. I want Jesus’ resurrection to be true. I believe it is. But I can’t comprehend what it looks like…

I can’t picture Jeferson standing up, laughing his laugh and smiling his smile and singing with his voice, and being stubborn and a brat and angry and hurt and tired and cold and happy and joyful and just so fully himself. I want to. But that hope seems so far away. I can’t wrap my mind around what it would be like to see my mom walk into the room again – to hear her laugh with her entire body, to see the love in her eyes, to have her put her arms around me and feel like a little child again – to grin when she gets frustrated again, and be sad when I’ve disappointed her and to have her be her old self, before she got sick – to hear her scream when Dad would throw her in the water or watch her glow with righteous indignation and action when the poor, abandoned, and weak were left without an advocate, and were abused and exploited and taken advantage of… Oh, to see them again…

But here, in this life, all we were left with is memories. Only their absence is present. Until that day two thousand years ago when something new happened.  Something unexpected and surprising and mysterious and confusing and earth-shattering – Jesus came back to life, defeating death. Two thousand years ago, something changed. The disciples, who cowered in numb broken fear, received the scare of their lives. Their hope had been dead. But in the blink of an eye, everything changed… He’s alive. He’s alive!

We hear the disciples whisper:

“What’s happened?”

“Have you heard?”

“I don’t believe it…”

“Do you really think…”

“No.”

“But…”

“What if?”

“What if?”

And then the appearance of Jesus in their midst. The one who was dead and now lives forever. The one they watched crucified. The one they had loved. The one they had abandoned. The one they had buried. The one they had mourned. This one was in their midst, and he laughed with them, and reassured them and said, “Do not be afraid… Mmm, that fish smells good. I think I’ll have some…”

He was alive. He defeated sin, and hell, and death. Sin could not conquer him. Hell could not hold him. Death could not contain him. He was back – and he was himself – gloriously, surprisingly, unbelievably present and alive!

He is alive!  And those who saw him, accepted him, believed in him – they were never the same.

What does it mean for us?  That because of his resurrection, we know that death has been defeated. There is hope, not only for the life to come, but for this life now! His eternal, Kingdom life spills back and forward through time, transforming us into something beautiful – flawed and broken, yet being renewed – helping us become who we were born to be… Because of the events of Easter, we have hope. Because of who Jesus is – his beauty, his promises, his life, his death, his resurrection – we have hope. Because of him, everything has changed. And there’s no going back to the way things used to be…

 

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