Sunday, March 23, 2008

The rest of the story

One of my closest friends died the other day. Gone so suddenly, subjected to such a cruel death, too. Everything aches. Emptiness fills my being. Just walking takes concerted effort. My mind travels a mile a minute replaying the events leading up to his death, treasuring the memories of his life.

Of course, it doesn’t help that his death became headline material. Everywhere I go people are discussing the events of his life, the circumstances of his death, and their opinion of the whole matter. Armchair editorialists, water cooler gossips all have to share their ‘objective’ take on the happenings.

Now, I travel to the cemetery. I need to visit again. To grieve, to remember, to contemplate. Wishing there was more I could do. Could I have changed something in the past few days and had a different outcome?

Tears come quickly as I remember his gentle ways, quick wit, powerful teaching, and firm convictions.

I enter the cemetery, and mindlessly travel the path to the grave.

---What’s this? Something has happened! His resting place was disturbed, his memory, his peace. His body removed. Where did they take him? How? What happened? Why is this happening? Didn’t we go through enough already?

I had seen his lifeless body removed from the cross, wrapped tenderly in clean linen, placed in this new tomb. To secure it, they rolled a giant stone in front of the entrance to the tomb. The Pharisees petitioned Pilate for an armed guard to keep watch over the tomb. This can’t be happening. There is no way that anyone could have done this.

As sorrow threatens to overwhelm me again I realize an angel is on hand and begins to speak, “Do not be afraid.” The same words spoken to Jesus’ mother at the foretelling of his birth. The same words spoken to the shepherds, now spoken to me at another emotionally charged encounter. The angel continues, “I know you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay.”

What? It can’t be true, but it must be true. He told us of this, but we didn’t understand fully. He is risen! He is alive. My mind again whirs with thoughts, trying to process it all, trying to make sense of everything my ears are hearing. My emotions race to catch up. No more sorrow, no more grief, just joy, pure joy!

We turn to gladly bring the news to the disciples awaiting our return, and there we see him, face to face. Jesus, our Risen Lord, the Lamb of God that has now taken away the sin of the world. We fell in worship, the privilege of worshiping God in the flesh. We had all these years together, and yet the fullness of who He was did not reach the core of our beings as it does now. He is God, the Almighty, the I AM. He gave himself in our place.

We know there will be opposition. The Pharisees know if this story gets around lives will be changed, against them. So, they have already bribed the soldiers to say the body was stolen. Foolishness! No person would dare to cross Pilate and his guards to propagate a lie.

He is alive! Nothing will stop this truth, His truth. It will reach the ends of the earth. It will change lives, families, communities, nations. The world will never be the same after this day.

HE IS RISEN!

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