“Christ is risen.”
“He is risen indeed!”
The traditional Christian Easter greeting celebrates the greatest truth believers know. But how often do we also focus on the agony that came before victory?
It’s Thursday. Jesus flinches as spittle splatters onto his face, and groans in pain as the crown of thorns is pressed into his forehead. The open gashes across his back attest to the whippings he has endured. His mother, Mary, is barely able to see above the rest of the crowd as she stands, watching while they nail her boy to a rough-hewn cross. Reaching out with her right arm, she forces her left hand to cover the scream that threatens to break out of her throat. She rocks back and forth, heart shredded. “My son. My son.” Wanting to take his pain; unable to do so.
Later she kneels at the foot of the cross, wringing her hands, keening as she watches her son dying. Never has she felt so alone. Then John steps up and lays a hand on her shoulder. Mary looks up through tears to see that John, too, is suffering as he watches his Rabbi’s body being torn and bruised and broken. She sees Jesus look down on them both.
“Behold your mother,” he says to John.
And “Behold your son,” to Mary.
And after Jesus’ death, after they have buried him in a borrowed tomb, she goes home with John, who cares for her from then on.
There is so much agony in our world. On at least three of five days last week I read about another school shooting, a bombing during Easter celebrations, and a fired employee returning to the workplace to kill. I hurt because some people I love are going through physical, emotional or mental pain. A good friend with whom Don and I have ministered in Mexico for the past few years went in for what was thought to be a non-critical surgery, caught an infection and died. Wars and famine abound.
But, as an old song says, “Sunday’s comin’.”
Sunday, when Mary’s world, John’s world, our world, was changed forever because Jesus conquered death and, in so doing, gave those who believe, life eternal–and hope now!
Yes, sorrow is ever-present in our world. But there is a day coming when joy will be the light of our morning and the song we sing at night. The day when Jesus the Christ returns for his people, and sorrow will forever be forgotten; pain a thing of the past; and peace, justice and harmony will reign. What a day that will be!
I pray that if you are hurting, lonely, confused today, you will turn to the God who gave us Easter Resurrection; and the promise (and experience) of His presence with us in the sorrows and agony of today.