Monday, April 21, 2014

What Happened

Let me ask you something: What just happened?

We have just come off one of the most sacred weekends in the Christian calendar, and I want to know what you remember of it. Because if you're anything like me, you may have missed something.

Every year, I have this feeling. This nagging feeling like I'm missing something. And every year, it's become Monday comes around and I'm left thinking about Christ on the Cross. It seems to me that this has somehow become the primary theme of our Easter celebrations and really, isn't that Good Friday? The truth is that our entire Christian culture is centered more on the Cross than the grave. 

What's up with that?

What bothers me about all of this is that we wake up Monday morning, just a few hours after the celebration of our risen Lord, and for most of us, what we remember is that Jesus died. We've already forgotten that He lives. We walk around this world with a dead Jesus, no longer looking for Him because, ironically, He "isn't here." The very words of the angel at the empty tomb are the words we use to brace our hearts for a temporal world where Jesus no longer lives because He's gone on to eternity. Where He lives forever. Just not here. And not with us. Until we get there. With Him. 

It's a bit of a mess.

There's a popular movie out right now called God's Not Dead. I haven't seen it. But I know that on a day like today, looking around at a world where the majority of Americans went to church yesterday to hear this very story of the un-dead God, I am constantly amazed at how many people have turned from the empty grave and gone back to life as they know it. Hmm...they say, He's not here. Oh well. He must be gone.

He must be gone? Really? That's the best we've got? We wake up on a Modern Monday (because this season puts me in the mood to name all of our days), see that the tomb is still empty, see that Jesus isn't in there, and that's the end of the story? It breaks my heart.

It breaks my heart because anyone who has known Jesus can't accept that answer. Look at Mary. Look at Peter. Look at the disciple whom Jesus loved. They went to the tomb and saw He wasn't there and figured not that He must be nowhere, but that He must be somewhere. If this is where we left Him, and now He's not here, where has He wandered off to? What is He up to? Where did He go?

And they set out looking for Jesus in their world. Sort of. At least, they held open the possibility that they might run into Him.

We don't think that's even a remote possibility. We don't believe it will happen that we'll ever find Jesus here. We have seen the crucifixion; we know He is dead. We have seen the empty tomb; we know He is gone. We have heard the stories, that He's waiting for us in eternity. And we conclude that eternity must be somewhere other than here.

Since when is time a physical place? Since when does Jesus rise from the dead and walk into Eternity? Never. Jesus steps out of the grave and sets His feet to Emmaus Road, where some of the disciples are taking the next steps of their journey. He joins them as they walk along. He puts His grave clothes aside and puts on His tunic and meets them on the seashore, grilling up a fine fish breakfast for His friends because they've had a hard few days and food is great benevolence. He emerges from the lowest of the lows and stands in the Upper Room. He's everywhere you'd need Him to be. Right here. With eternity stretched before Him and one scarred hand stretched out to you.

I'm usually disappointed on Monday. Frustrated, really, because I fall into this trap, too. It's too easy to wake up and remember that Jesus is dead and that the tomb is empty. It's too easy to forget that if the tomb is empty, then Jesus must be somewhere. It's too easy to stand around and forget to go looking for Him. It's too easy to miss running into Him, to forget to keep our eyes open for the risen Lord who walks among us. 

So I'm begging you today, pleading really with the heart that holds on to all such holy things, to stop thinking about the Cross today. To stop standing at the empty tomb. But to open your eyes and search for the risen Lord. Keep one eye open for Jesus. He's somewhere. I promise.

He promised.

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