In the next weeks, we will encounter two events in the life of Christ that will tempt us to stop our journey, build houses, and live in these events. We might think we have reached the end of the journey – and commonly as Christians, we act as we have through one of these events. The first event is the Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem. The Lord will come riding into Jerusalem on the foal of a donkey appearing as one of the kings of Rome or some other dignitary would: Riding into the town amid shouts of joy and admiration claiming Jesus as our King and with palm branches laid in the path. It would be great to stop and live here just having Jesus as our earthly king, providing all our needs and giving us relief from the things that cause us pain in this world. Nevertheless, Jesus would not be who he came to be, would he? Jesus did not come to build an earthly kingdom, as other kings in this world; he came to change the world. So we can’t rest beside an earthly kingdom no matter what we want.
The second event is a sad one, we will come to the cross of Jesus and be tempted to set up camp and live at the foot of the cross. We will want to rejoice in his taking away of our sins, not a bad place to hang out. We are tempted to see the cross as the be all end all of Jesus’ work. While it is a center point for us, we have to remember that forgiveness with nothing else after is a bit pointless. If we are forgiven but just hang out, it does not really change anything. The cross is the hinge that gives us the possibility. As much as we want to stay there as forgiven people, we must journey further; we must live beyond the cross.
The last event is the one we celebrate the most and realize the consequences of the least. We come on Easter Sunday to celebrate an empty grave, a grave that has lost its battle to contain the life of humanity. We are not people of the cross but people of the empty tomb. This is where we stake our ground...not Jesus’ death, but his resurrection. We too often even get this wrong. The resurrection is not only about going to heaven when we die. Resurrection is about being set free from the fear and the hold of death in our lives to live in this world in a new way. Resurrection points us to live a life that reflects the life of Jesus, to live boldly, and to be the people of God by living without fear of doing the right thing for others. I really have to laugh at myself about life. I am one of the most fearful persons I know. I worry about getting hurt. I worry about having enough money to last throughout my retirement. I worry about my kids. While it is very human to worry about these things, Jesus has opened the door to a life beyond these things. He has set us free from the temporal world by destroying our last and most fearsome enemy—death. I know this in my heart, but my mind forgets to focus on an empty tomb and sees the Roman soldiers standing around looking for someone to arrest for taking the body.
This year I am going to focus on the emptiness of that grave and the way it teaches me how Jesus has overcome all the obstacles right here in this world. I will focus on his call to take up my cross, to embrace the means of my death, to make peace with it, and to come and follow Him regardless of my fear and of the horrors of this world. He calls me to live in the now, not the future. Heaven is not the goal of our salvation, a changed world that fully relies on God is the goal. Heaven is the prize we receive.
Happy Easter. I love you all.