Friday, March 25, 2016

"He Is Not Here..."

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Only a week had passed since that triumphal Palm Sunday parade in Jerusalem---the public celebrating Jesus---the political and religious establishment becoming even more deeply angered and fearful of His growing popularity.

Within the week, they would convene an illegal trial, sentence Him and kill Him.

What a striking difference in the little procession that set out at dawn that Sunday morning to go to the tomb paying respects and perform the last sad rites of letting go of what could have been.

Later that day two men, traveling out of Jerusalem, were discussing the events of the weekend. They were astonished by the stranger who joined them and appeared to know little of how their hopes had been crushed this past Friday.

That day changed human history forever---and in each case it was a private occasion, not a public one.

On this day there were no shouting crowds, no waving Palm branches. No triumphal entry.

The gardener was working among the graves.

Preoccupied with her own personal loss, she barely noticed him as she made her way toward the tomb. As she neared the tomb, her sense of loss only increased with the reality of what had happened over the weekend.

Then she heard it.


There in the first light of dawn, Mary stood still and listened. She knew that voice. How could it be?

It was not the gardener.

That was the moment that Easter broke like the sunrise into her heart...."He is risen."

This is the way Easter still breaks into our hearts and lives---when we least expect it, when all seems lost.

It is often in tears, rather than in celebration that Christ makes Himself real to us---the stone rolls away.

Dropping their spices and ointments, the burdens of their sad errand, they rushed to tell others what had happened.

A profile of Christianity. They met Jesus individually, then brought the good news to all the others who still grieved.

But not all recognized Jesus immediately, or even His voice.

Two men traveling the road to Emmaus were discussing what had happened in Jerusalem over the weekend.

While discussing these matters, Jesus joined them and entered into the conversation. But they didn't recognize Him.

Jesus asked, "What kind of conversation is this that you have with one another as you walk and are so sad."

Cleopas, one of the men, answered Him and said, "Are you the only stranger in Jerusalem, and have you not known the things that have happened there in these days?"

Jesus said, "What things."

Explaining the events of the past week, they told the stranger, "But we were hoping that it was He who was going to redeem Israel," and besides, "today is the third day since these things happened."

After much more conversation they came to the village. While Jesus indicated He would be traveling on further down the road, they insisted he join them for a meal.

As He sat with them and ate, their eyes were opened and they recognized Him; "And He vanished from their sight."

They immediately returned to Jerusalem and told their colleagues, "The Lord is risen indeed..." we recognized Him in "the breaking of the bread."

In the course of human events---the tears, the questions, the reverses, the set backs, the confusion, the hurts---He comes.

Today, we remember his death.

Sunday, we celebrate His Resurrection.

Be Blessed. He is Risen.