I took some time this morning to reflect on the events of Jesus’ death and resurrection. What an incredible weekend that was. It would have been filled with extreme sadness, dread, and joy- a truly emotional rollercoaster. Can you imagine?
Just think about it… Thursday night, you’re eating dinner with Jesus, and things seem to be going great. Here is Jesus, you’re breaking bread, He’s washing feet, taking time to explain the future to them- how they will do greater things than He has ever done, explaining faith, what to preach, and keys of the Kingdom- and suddenly says He is going to be betrayed and denied by some of the group. Next thing you know, Judas gets up and runs out of the room, and then Jesus says it’s time to go. So now, you’re in the Garden of Gethsemane late at night, and Jesus walks off to pray. It’s a cold night and the guys all start falling asleep. Jesus comes back with blood on His face, and wakes everyone up and confronts everyone that is asleep. Meanwhile, Judas shows up with soldiers and Jesus asks them, “Who are you looking for?” They say they are here to arrest Jesus, and He responds, “I am He.” As He says this, everyone flies back and falls to the ground. One of the men, a servant of the High Priest of Israel (the holiest man in your religion) gets up and grabs Jesus. As he does, Peter pulls out a sword and chops the dude’s ear off. (What is going on?!) Before you can even begin to process anything, Jesus heals the ear, rebukes Peter, surrenders to the soldiers, and leaves with them. Your entire world has suddenly collapsed. How did this happen? Just a few hours ago, everything was amazing. You were hoping that Jesus was going to become King and change everything, but now all you see is chaos. You can’t gather your thoughts. Years of preparation, miracles, studying, learning, helping people… it’s all over.
Friday morning comes and Jesus is being tried. The whole city has changed. You haven’t slept, you’re scared to death, and you are extremely confused. Everyone has gone crazy. Just a few days ago, the whole city was worshipping Jesus and celebrating His arrival. Now everyone wants Him dead, and you are afraid they will kill you too. Then you find out they found Jesus “not guilty”, but instead of releasing Him they sent Him to another court. A few moments later, Jesus has been found not guilty “again”, but they still don’t release Him. He is sent back to the first court. The Romans don’t have any reason to do this, except that they are afraid of 1 million people going crazy (even though they already are). They announce that Jesus is going to be beaten, and they take Him to the military barracks. A little while later, they bring Him back, you think. If it is Jesus, you can’t recognize Him. As a matter of fact, He doesn’t even look human. Blood is everywhere. Your heart breaks. Desperation explodes within you as you see what they have done to an innocent, wonderful man. He is so gentle and kind, full of grace and truth. He stands as best He can, proudly. The Roman in charge tells Him, “Don’t you realize I can save you?!” Jesus replies, “I give myself willingly.” Everyone heard it. The statement causes anguish in you, and extreme hatred in others. They bring out an evil murderer, who calls himself Bar Abba, which means “Son of the Father.” It’s the same thing Jesus has called Himself. This is why He was arrested. Two men, both calling themselves the same basic name, are presented to the crowd. Now it is up to everyone to choose who lives and who dies. Jesus is to die. They laugh, you cry. They take Jesus to Golgotha. It’s a brutal walk, carrying His cross. How He could even take a single step after losing so much blood, I will never know. He is so weak, but still filled with joy. You ask yourself, “How is He still so joyful?” That’s when you catch His eye, and hear deep within yourself, “He is joyful because He knows something. He has a purpose, here. He knows what He is doing.” He climbs on His cross, excited and joyful. He is quoting the Davidic Psalm (which we know to be Psalm 22) about crucifixion. Suddenly it’s starting to make sense. The mob has mostly left. They couldn’t stomach such a scene. Only the most religious are here to support His death, and on the opposite side, Jesus’ most devoted followers- those who haven’t let fear or shame overwhelm them. You watch Him take His last breath. Immediately, after His death, the ground began shaking, and clouds filled the sky. Rain falls. It’s not the rainy season. Even the Roman soldiers there say, “Surely He is the Son of God.” The Rabbis leave in disgust. Jesus is dead. It’s over. You start to head back to the city, but you hear screaming. Dead people are no longer dead. They are coming out of the tombs! It’s insanity. Everyone sees it. The chaos continues until sunset. It’s now Sabbath, and everyone goes home.
Saturday comes and no one is allowed to anything. You can’t even mourn. Mary and the other women make plans to go to the tomb tomorrow morning, first thing to take care of the body, and to mourn. You go to the Temple and pray.
Sunday morning comes. It’s before dawn, and the women leave Bethany to head to the tomb like they had planned. They are openly grieving, wearing the traditional clothes for mourning, and carrying the supplies for Jesus’ body. They are scared because we know there are Roman soldiers guarding the tomb, and Romans can be ruthless. Later, you see Mary running at full sprint back! She’s screaming, “He’s gone! He’s gone! There are angels at the tomb! He has risen! Come and see!” You don’t think twice, you drop everything and run as hard and fast as you can for miles, until you reach the tomb, and you pass Peter on the way. The old man just can’t run like you can. You get there and some of the ladies are crying on the ground, the guards are nowhere to be seen, and the stone has been rolled away. You stop at the entrance and bend down to see inside, and as you do Peter runs by you, going right into the tomb! You go inside too, and see the linen sheets for Jesus’ body there on the ground, and the cloth for His face neatly folded and placed where His feet should be. As you see the cloth, you realize “He will be back!” Hope floods your heart! “Oh my! Jesus really is the Son of God! He is! He is risen! He is the Messiah!”
You come out and talk to the ladies… They tell you how difficult the journey was for them this morning. Since they are all dressed in mourning clothes, everyone knew they were followers of Jesus. They were made fun of the entire walk. You ask them what happened here, and they tell you as they were coming close there was another earthquake. When they passed Golgotha, they turned along the hill towards the tomb. When they got here, they found no guards, and the stone was rolled away. Instantly, they were terrified. They say it felt like a crime scene. They felt emptiness in the pit of their stomachs. All of them were gripped with a powerful fear. Suddenly, the women heard a voice from on top of the stone, it was an angel! The angel told them, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. 6He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. 7Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.” So they began to run, but Jesus appeared to them, and said, “Greetings.” They were so excited, and began to worship Him! Jesus told them to go and tell us He would meet us in Galilee, but we were filled with so much emotion, that when Mary came, we just couldn’t help it but to run to the tomb. After hearing the stories, you and Peter decided to go back to the house you were staying at.
Later, you ask Mary what she had encountered and she tells you Jesus appeared to her. She says she saw 2 angels inside the tomb and began talking to them, but then Jesus appeared and interrupted. She went to hug Him, and He stopped her and told her He had to ascend to Heaven and talk with His Father first, but that He would meet us in Galilee soon.
Some of the guys headed to Emmaus, instead of Galilee because they couldn’t believe what they were hearing. They came running back later to tell us that Jesus met them along the way! They told us how He taught them, and helped them to believe. Then Peter came and told us that He had seen Jesus, too! So we were all just telling each other these stories and rejoicing, when suddenly, Jesus appeared to us!! We got so excited! We were filled with joy and amazement! While we were jumping and shouting, Jesus interrupted us and asked for some food, so we gave Him some fish.
Later, Luke wrote down this to explain what happened after Jesus ate the fish:
He said to them, “This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.” Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. He told them, “This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.” When he had led them out to the vicinity of Bethany, he lifted up his hands and blessed them. While he was blessing them, he left them and was taken up into heaven. Then they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy. And they stayed continually at the temple, praising God. (Luke 24:44-53)
So, again, I was reflecting on everything that happened on that weekend, long ago. I was blown away, contemplating all that must have gone through their minds and hearts during those few days. Today, as I wrote this, I cried. I wish I could express how I feel, but most of all I hope this has been a blessing for you to read. I hope it has brought you closer to events, made it less of a story, and more of an experience. God bless you…
Written by a few for the many.