Lately, when I hear the gospel accounts of that first Easter morning, I am struck by the impact of the event on those closest to the resurrected Lord.
He is risen.
Three words. Words that you’d think would stir up joy and delight in those who’d heard that very promise from Jesus’ lips – that he would rise again on the third day. Look closely at the Gospel stories, though, and you discover that some quite different emotions were more prominently on display – feelings of confusion and fear.
Feelings that are natural enough, I suppose, given the utter impossibility of what these followers are seeing take place before their very eyes. Still, I wonder if there’s not a deeper, more personal reason for the fear. They know – they see etched in deep relief, in the patterns of their own lives – just how weak is their faith; how quick they were to abandon Jesus a few days before. Surely, they must wonder if there is a price to be paid for having turned their backs on Him. (And don’t we often wonder the same thing, when we reflect on our own sinfulness?)
But the Easter event, it turns out, is even more mind-blowing than at first it appears. For not only can they see that He is risen, but His first gift to them is peace. And soon enough, they realize…
All is forgiven.
All the treachery. All the denial. All the self-centeredness. All the faithlessness. All the fear. All the abandonment. It’s all forgiven. All forgotten. All washed away in the blood of the Lamb.
Little by slowly, they come to realize: This is something new. This is utterly beyond what they’ve been taught to expect by their religious traditions. This far exceeds the best deal they could have cooked up in their own minds, relying on their own human limitations. This Easter gift cannot be explained, it can only be experienced.
It is the Truth that they discover in their resurrected Lord…a Truth that in the end, does in fact have the power to fill their hearts with joy:
God is love.
Let us pause now…to recall that we are in the presence of the Holy One.