April 17, 2017
Easter. What a week!
Imagine a dozen men – in the prime years of their adult lives – who had set their schedules and strategies aside under the powerful influence of a charismatic carpenter. With no backing or fanfare, he had come across their path and invited them to join him in changing the world.
Through the filter of their religious paradigms, their growing sense of destiny – as they watched his miracles and heard his messages – had marked the Nazarene as the promised Messiah: God’s promised champion who would reestablish Israel’s sovereignty and reoccupy the throne of the great King David. With that picture firmly in mind, three years later, they marched into Jerusalem – behind Jesus, riding a young donkey – to the zealous cheers of an ebullient crowd, waving palm branches and shouting support for their leader.
They had coronation in mind, and probably believed it to be imminent. Instead, by Thursday night – after an intimate and prolonged Passover meal together in a private room in Jerusalem – the coronation dream was replaced with a crisis reality. They moved – immediately – into crisis mode.
Their reflexive reaction to the crisis: rescue. The armed contingent – representing the influence of the Jewish leaders and the strength of the Roman military – arrived with Judas, intent on arresting Jesus. Peter swung into action and engaged in battle; he severed the ear of a Jewish member of the posse before Jesus ordered him to stand down; if he wanted battle, 12 legions of angels could have been summoned from heaven (based on Roman troop formations, that’s 66,000 Supernatural Special Forces). Led away – and going willingly – rescue went from difficult to impossible, until his confirmed death on Friday afternoon.
By Sunday morning, rescue was no longer possible. In a crisis, after death is ascertained, recovery is the next reasonable response. The Jewish leaders were troubled by the idea that Jesus’ followers may attempt recovery so they had negotiated an immovable barrier erected at the tomb’s entry, along with armed Roman guards. The women were first, coming to the tomb of Joseph to give the body of Jesus the respect they believed appropriate. No recovery would be possible…
Successive contingents of Jesus’ followers – first women, then Peter and John – came into the now-accessible tomb and found it empty: the grave clothes were abandoned, with no sign of foul play. Their commitment to recovery was thwarted; an alternate plan was in play…
Resurrection! This was no crisis; the One they had embraced as the Anointed proved his authority over human opposition, governmental forces and spiritual darkness: rescue and recovery were human initiatives, but God had other plans. No rescue in a battle, and no recovery with a body: resurrection was the breakthrough that only God could conceive and orchestrate!
“Early on the first day of the week…” (John 20:1) It was, for these Jewish folks, Monday morning, after a religious holiday (Passover) had them away from their normal routines. The Resurrection happened at the start of their new week, “back to work.”
Instead, the after-effects of that breakthrough would make every day, every week – from that moment until the Resurrected One would return – a radically different experience.
Yesterday was Easter; you probably attended services. Today is Monday, and time to go “back to work.” Is it the start of “just another week…?”
Or, is today – and, every day – now different because of what those women and men found (or, didn’t find) in that empty tomb?