I’ve spent some time this morning trying to make Easter real to myself in a fresh new way. That probably sounds sort of odd, but I’ve kind of been stuck on the gravity of Good Friday this morning, and I wanted to move myself on to the joy of Easter. I think it’s important for us to consider the depth of Christ’s sacrifice for us. I think that is a valuable meditation, but it’s not Easter.
As many of you know, I spent my young adult life as an actor. One of the things that you have to learn to do, if you’re going to act well, is to understand how it feels to be in a certain situation. Capturing the emotion of the moment. So I spent some time this morning trying to capture the emotion of the disciples. And I thought, what must have been going through their heads?
They’ve spent three years traveling everywhere with the Messiah. Scripture makes it fairly clear they knew he was the Messiah, they even knew he was the son of God, but they didn’t realize what that meant. So what must they have been thinking and feeling when he died on the cross? Were they wrong? Was he a fraud? Had Israel actually killed the promised Messiah before he could bring God’s kingdom? Had they finally alienated God forever?
What a terrifying place that must have been. Not knowing, and not even being able to imagine the reality. Every possibility looked awful. And then, in rushes Mary Magdalene and shouts: “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!”
Things have gone from bad to worse. Not only is the teacher dead, but those who killed him aren’t done apparently. Peter and John rush back to the tomb with Mary. Everyone else just waits. Don’t you love waiting? Can you imagine that wait?
The worst part is, when Peter and John returned, they can only say the body is gone. Scripture tells us they didn’t yet realize he had been ressurected. It isn’t until Mary rushes in for the second time and shouts “I have seen the Lord!” that the truth begins to come clear. Imagine that moment. The room must have been a mass of confusion. I doubt anyone knew what she meant, and then how much explanation was required before they began to hope?
But when that hope finally took hold, then they saw Christ again and realized the full magnitude of his victory, the joy must have been overwhelming. Every Easter, at First Pres we sing “Jesus Christ is Risen Today” to start the morning. It’s a special arrangement our Minister of Music has written with trumpets, french horns, trombones, and a tuba. It’s amazing, powerful, unavoidable and magnificent. I don’t think it’s a patch on what the Disciples felt that morning, as they realized Christ was victorious even over the grave. They were forgiven, and could have a relationship with him forever. And so can we!