Most people reading this post can tell the Biblical story of Easter. “Jesus died for our sins on the cross. He rose again three days later, so that if we believe in Him, we will live forever.” Even our kids can recant the story with endearing Sunday school splendor. Indeed, the glorious Good News has been received loud and clear by the church and beyond. Yet, still, I have this unsettled feeling, that I (and my people) may be missing something. The words of the story roll off our tongues so effortlessly that I wonder if we mistakenly assume that knowing the story - and even believing it to be true – makes our faith complete.
Believe the story of Easter – check. Christian – check. Heaven – check.
The truth is that we have the story of Easter recorded in the Bible not simply for us to know what happened, important as that is. But point of the Easter story – and all of scripture - is to introduce us to God, and to offer an invitation to live life with His Son. Every… single…word… has the power to woo us into radical intimacy with God. Did you hear that? Radical…intimacy…with… GOD. So, if we have stopped short of true relationship with Jesus, His Son – the kind of relationship that talks and listens and trusts and obeys and waits and wrestles and loves and cries and rejoices and hopes – then no matter how well we know the story, we have simply missed Easter.
It turns out that we are not the first to miss Easter and the presence of Jesus in its aftermath. After the first Easter, there were many who had knew the story by having seen it first hand, but were nevertheless left somewhat baffled about how their life would work with Jesus going forward. When I look back at them I am touched by the way they stayed with their longing, their sadness, their confusion. They didn’t just return to business as usual. It was like they couldn’t quite move on until they got to Jesus. They had doubts, questions, fears, and heartache; but they could not let go of looking for Jesus, making the story personal. And the great news is that Jesus came to them. To all who sought, to all who wondered, to all who wrestled with what Easter really meant – Jesus appeared. After He died on the cross, after He rose from the dead, Jesus went and appeared to His friends who were searching for Him.
To Mary Magdalene who ached with sadness at the loss of her Lord and who wanted to see and touch His body, to the disciples who were afraid of what would happen to them as believers and who needed the peace of Christ’s presence, to the men walking along the road who needed understanding about what had really happened that first Easter, to Thomas who could not believe His God lived until He could touch the holes in His hands, to Peter whose shame must have made him feel like half a man – to all of these people seeking Jesus for proof, for love, for intimacy, for purpose, for peace, for redemption – Jesus appeared. He met them in their search for Him and He gave them what they needed.
The story of Jesus’ time on this earth ends with a great commission and the eternal promise that only Easter can offer. Before Jesus returns to Heaven, He speaks life and purpose and relationship into His disciples. He commissions them to share the marvelous invitation of Easter with the world. It is an invitation not to hear a story, but to live a story in great love and intimacy with its Hero. He promises them that they are not alone, that Easter, in fact, is about never being alone again. And before He departs into the clouds He promises, “I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
Ladies, this story is to be your story. Its Hero is to be your Hero. The Jesus who appeared to all those who searched for Him desires to come to you. Are you searching? Are you seeking? Are you expecting Him to come? He is with you now, as He will be tomorrow. What would it look like in your life today, in this moment, if you simply turned to Him?