This Easter was extra special to me. For the past month, I’ve been reading and thinking about the resurrection story from each of the four gospels over and over again. I put myself in the story each time.
What if you were one of Jesus’ followers at that time? For 3 days, you were deeply depressed and grieving over Jesus’ death, then Jesus rises and you celebrate. Then, 40 days later, He ascended to Heaven, and was gone again, leaving you to wait for another Helper.
If I saw that Jesus was ascending to heaven, I would’ve shouted, “No! Stop! Don’t leave us again!” And I would’ve sadly watched Him disappear into the cloud.
This coming Sunday, we will be celebrating the event that changed everything. The resurrection of Jesus our Savior. Over the past several weeks, I have been reading and rereading the accounts found in the gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) of Jesus’ betrayal, arrest, crucifixion, and resurrection. My prayer has been, “Lord, show me something I haven’t seen before in the Easter story.”
And here’s the truth I encountered. Maybe I saw it before and forgot. Or ironically, maybe I never saw it:
This coming Sunday is Palm Sunday. It’s when we reflect on the time Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey, and crowds of Israelites gathered to cheer on their Messiah – the long-awaited One whose coming had been foretold many years earlier by the prophets. And even though some of the prophets had clearly communicated that Jesus would be lowly and riding on a donkey (Zechariah 9:9), and that He’d be despised and rejected by mankind – a man of suffering, and familiar with pain (Isaiah 53:3), the crowds only seemed to remember the prophecies about His royalty and power.
It had been spoken that He would reign on David’s throne forever (1 Chronicles 17:12), and that He would rule the nations with a rod of iron (Psalm 2:8). It was this type of prophecy that people embraced, and they were convinced that Jesus’ rule was “of this world”. They were sure He had come to save them from their enemies in this world, and not from something else. And they were disappointed.
How about you? Ever been disappointed by Jesus?
When Jesus first met Peter, his name wasn’t Peter. It was Simon. Simon was a fisherman, and fishermen had the reputation of being vulgar, reckless and uneducated. Yet Jesus immediately changed Simon’s name to Peter, indicating that He saw him as a firm, faithful rock. As we know, Peter made the big mistake of denying that he even knew Jesus 3 times. And Jesus knew he would.
But Jesus still named him Peter, “The Rock”.
Are you missing out?
The story of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead in John chapter 11 is one of my favorite stories in the whole Bible. Yes, partially because it was such a tremendous miracle, but much more so because of the tremendous example of Didymus, or, “Doubting Thomas” as we better know him.
When Jesus said to his disciples, “Let’s go back to Judea,” one disciple replied, “Judea?! But Jesus, not too long ago, the Jews there tried to stone you there! Are you SURE you’re talking about the right place? Do you REALLY want to go back to THAT?”