Passages for Reflection: Luke 24, John 20-21
Father in heaven,
You made a world over which it is Your authority to rule. You are never forced into action, never compelled, never obliged. All that You do is of Your free intention and inexpressible delight. You are free, and the freedom that You have to do what is right and good is a freedom that we cannot begin to understand. And yet the Scriptures tell us that it was necessary that the Christ suffer at the hands of evil men and three days later, rise and enter His glory. The necessity of the death and resurrection of Your Son means that forgiveness cannot be had any other way. We cannot be sorry enough for the ways that we fail You. We cannot try to tip the scales in our favour by heaping up a lifetime of good deeds. Forgiveness is not ours to earn, but it is Yours to freely give. You are free to give it because sin’s debt has been paid in full. The Innocent has been given for the guilty, the Holy for the unholy, the Pure for the impure: Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world!
This Easter morning, we do not find Him in a tomb. The angels have announced Your irrevocable victory over sin and death. What has long been Your enemy, You defeated when Jesus drew breath after being three days dead. When on the first Easter morning, He sat up and unwrapped His grave clothes, there must have a celebration that Heaven had never before seen. The singing, the feasting, the dancing, the celestial parade! He who was dead is ALIVE, and now the great Accuser whose sceptre is death and destruction, he has suffered a fatal wound. Jesus is the King of a new Kingdom. He has re-inaugurated the reign of truth and beauty and goodness.
Our hopes are fully set in You. We knew that the Easter story is a folk tale to many. It is not credible to people whose universe is the substance of sight. And even your disciples were slow to absorb the miracle of Easter. Peter saw the empty tomb and left bewildered. Mary Magdalene met the angels who announced He had risen, and still she persisted in her crying. Thomas vehemently refused the testimony of his friends: “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe!” We are stubborn skeptics, every one of us, and the Easter story will threaten to make us fools in our world of Enlightened arrogance.
Oh, fools that we would be for Jesus! Fools that we would be for the God-Man whose back bore our beatings, whose innocence substituted for our criminal guilt, for the Jesus who could not be found on Easter morning! Oh, fools that we would be for Him and for the cause of truth and justice. Oh, fools that we would be for the proclamation of repentance and the forgiveness of sins! Oh, fools that we would be in this world passing away for the world yet to come! Fools that we would be for our humility, our generosity, our self-sacrifice, our willingness to forgive, and our courageous love. We have learned these at the feet of Jesus, and You have promised to make us like Him.
This Easter morning, receive our praise all across this spinning world that we inhabit by Your grace. Grant faith to each of us who are slow to believe. Grant forgiveness to those of us who’ve failed to find hope in self-effort. Grant love to Your church, which You’ve commissioned for Your work. And come again, Lord Jesus, to finally establish Your kingdom and make complete your rescue from our great enemies of sin and death.
In the resurrected hope of Jesus! Amen.