Sunday, April 08, 2007

Easter Exhortation

We often make the mistake of having a sentimental religion. By this, I mean, constructing a faith upon what we feel would be best or what it would be if it were nice and tidy, a precious moment, so to speak. But the Bible and the gospel comes to us on God’s terms and not ours. Because of this, we have to take it as it is given and not as we had hoped it would be. This causes us to submit to God, His Providence, His wisdom, His Christ.

Resurrection Sunday is another one of those parts of the Bible that is often remembered in a sentimental way. I think many Christians envision something other than what actually happened. We have sunrise services so that we can glory in the empty tomb. We picture Mary Magdelene, Peter and John running to the tomb in eager anticipation of finding it empty in proof that Jesus has been raised from the dead. But that is not what happened. They came to the tomb but not eagerly, not in belief, but still lost in their despair and misery. They had not yet believed and so their doubts and fears and disappointments completely blinded them. Among the disciples and even the apostles, there are no exceptions. None anticipated the Resurrection. None were eager for an empty tomb.

But this does not change the fact that Jesus really had risen. The disciples did not believe it and could not see it, but nonetheless it was true. And because it was and is true, they would soon be able to see and have their hope and strength renewed.

We are not unlike the first disciples. We are disciples of Jesus, indeed, but we have our dark moments. We have our Black Fridays like that horrific Friday when Jesus was crucified. All is black and gloom. All hope is lost. All confidence is shattered. We have great doubts and are at a loss as to who Jesus really is. Will He come to me? Will He save me? Am I really His beloved? Or was all that hope just a dream?

We all have our Barren Saturdays, when the day drags on without a word from the Lord. He seems to be gone and not coming back. Where is the joy that we once had in Christ? Where is the hope of Him being King and protecting me from the enemies of my hope? Will He fight this sense of loneliness, of apathy, of unrequited longing? Where is Jesus at this hour of great need?
We have all had our Dissapointing Sundays, when a hope has arisen that perhaps He will come, perhaps He will rise only to find that the tomb is empty but Jesus is not to be found. We thought we could go to Him but He is not there. He has gone.

But all of your Fridays, Saturdays and early Sundays do not change the fact that Christ is Risen. He has risen and conquered the death of Friday. He has returned and brought meaning to the drought of Saturday. He is right behind you on your disappointing Sunday. He speaks and like Mary, you must simply turn around to see Him. His resurrection puts all of the loss, longing, and languishing into perspective. It turns sorrow into joy and mourning into rejoicing.

There is nothing that can separate you from His love. You have but to remember what He said, to believe that His rising is the crowning of victory over death. And that in this victory are all the hopes and joys of your victory. He comes to you on Friday and you must see Him crucified for sins and your sins. He comes to You on Saturday and you must see Him bringing victory over sorrows and your sorrows. He comes to You on Sunday and all hope is renewed. He is risen.

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