Sunday, March 31, 2013

A Lifetime in a Few Days

The house is surrounded by fog this morning, dulling outside sounds and making the bird cries more prevalent.  It sounds like an aviary, and it is lovely sound for an Easter morning. 
What we call Good Friday has passed; though the disciples probably did not associate good with that day.  Their leader, teacher, and friend was subjected to brutal punishment and execution on a cross.  Hung there to die, slowly and painfully – the hearts must have been such an overwhelming mix of grief, fear, anger, hurt, shock, and confusion.  How could the populace do this?  Why would they do this to someone who has healed and fed so many?  Why couldn’t I stop it?  And the realization hit with Peter, I denied my friend.   That is the overwhelming realization of Good Friday – self (I) was a contributing factor.  Even now, many hundreds of years later, the realization still hits with a cold shock – it was me. 
The disciples were confronted with the death of Jesus and had a whole Sabbath day to think over the events, over and over.  On that day of rest, I doubt they rested much.  I can imagine the tears, silent and noisy, staring into space as the wondering of what comes next and grief take back over.  Was there a hint of hope, a realization of what was coming, and any relief in the pain?  The men and women who went through those days, days that were years long in mind and heart, did not have the benefit of understanding immediately what was to occur next.
But, miraculously, the story does not end in this haze of confusion and pain.  Women went to prepare the body of Jesus for burial, honoring him in their best way even at the last.  They arrived where he was to be entombed, but there was not a body there.  Instead, there was a messenger who delivered amazing and miraculous news, “Why do you seek the living among the dead?  He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise.”  Did the women look at each other, a spark of hope and yet blanketed in fear in their eyes?  The spark grew and they took steps of faith in great joy.  Joy, overwhelming in its intensity must have taken over as the realization hits – Jesus is not dead!  The meaning of the three days, the rising on the third day – it suddenly makes sense.  And now, even now, the intensity again hits as we realize – the story did not end there, He is Alive! 
A few days in the life of the followers of Christ, that most likely seemed as if they were years long.  Blanketed in their own fog, the sounds around them were louder, sounds of grief and then of wonderment and joy.  We may wonder, how can those days, those few hours so many years ago impact me.  It is the simple realization that my lack of perfection, my sins as an individual that created the separation from Christ that hits with the Good Friday death.  “It was me, he died for me,” is the whisper cry of so many hearts.  But, the moment does not end in death, we realize that death was overcome and life won – life eternal.  The joy comes in a wave as we realize that the tide turns and we have an opportunity for life as well.  The condemned receives a reprieve as the innocent stands and takes the punishment for me, for you. 
Happy Easter – the grave that held Jesus is empty!  He is alive!