Enter with me into your mind’s eye to use the God-given gift of imagination…
It’s late in the week after the events in Jerusalem shook the world. Jesus of Nazareth was condemned and crucified as a common criminal.
The Upper Room was in your home, the final place of fellowship for Jesus and His disciples on the night He was betrayed, and this is where you find yourself early this bright Judean Spring morning.
You’re not a disciple, but a friend in mourning. You valued His distinct nature, especially His ability to be totally present when with you. The way He listened and focused was affirming and inspiring, and He was like that with everyone, every time. Being with Him was being in a safe place. There was never judgment or angst, only true friendship, and blessing.
But now He’s gone, and you’re waking up to the sounds of birds singing amidst the playful laughter and chatter of children in the distance.
You think, “How could there be any sort of innocent beauty in a time like this? There was hope for Israel and the world, but in an instant, it was crushed.”
And now to top it all off, His body is missing, and you wonder, “Has it been stolen? Is there a scandal of some sort taking place?”
The rumor mill says He’s been appearing – in the flesh – to those within His inner circle, and they say He explains everything. The Prophets, The Law, the horrific weekend itself and The Kingdom of God. They say it “had to happen this way” and that “their hearts burned within” as they heard Him speak.
The last time you were with them was in the room you prepared for Passover, their final meeting. You remember hearing, as you sat with your back against the wall by the doorway, Jesus saying, “You will weep and mourn, but the world will rejoice; you will have pain, but your pain will turn into joy. When a woman is in labor, she has pain, because her hour has come. But when the child is born, she no longer remembers the anguish because of the joy of having brought a human into the world.… but you have pain now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you.”
You think about what you heard, and you can resonate with the pain He mentioned. It began with His flogging, and by night’s end had seared itself onto many hearts. It was a pain unimaginable. The pain of losing your best friend tragically and unexpectedly. Not only that but losing Him over sham accusations by jealous, power-hungry, hate-filled people. The injustice and violence of that night were so potent, that evil itself seemed to come to life. He was right to predict “pain,” but “Joy?” You feel no sense of that whatsoever.
Your friends who claim to be witnesses to His appearing…they seem to have this joy, but not you. They shared the horrific experience and yet when you see them, you would never know it.
You think, “Has their mourning come to an end? Are they in shock or delusional? Are they actors leading a great deception?” But you conclude, “No, they aren’t! They are not deceptive nor insane, but…dead people don’t come back to life, and it just doesn’t make sense!” Your eyes well up, yet again, with the tears that won’t seem to run dry.
As you pour your tea, you recall being with John just the night before. He tried explaining something that he’d not quite figured out, but that was heavy on his heart and mind. He said, “Remember the story of our God’s work in creation? Remember the first day? How there was darkness and emptiness and wind? And it was chaos? Chaos that God, in His power, brought to order by separating the darkness and light, then calling it the First Day. Do you remember that?”
“Yes, of course,” you replied.
“I’m feeling in my spirit, I’m believing that God has done it again! He has used the darkness and chaos of last weekend and birthed, in the rising of our Lord, the New Creation! The long-expected Age to Come, the rule of God’s Kingdom where death has been defeated, where captives are set free, and where God tabernacles with and within humans and no longer in Temple! It has invaded our world, brother! It has invaded our world in Jesus! It makes sense, yes?”
You responded, “John, it makes sense if He has risen, but, brother, I can’t believe it and am not willing to pretend. I don’t understand your joy, but I pray, John, I pray for understanding and faith”.
John smiled and said, “I too am praying for you…for you, for Israel, and for all the world! For this is News to be spread…it is very Good News.”
You snap out of your thoughts and begin partaking in your freshly baked bread and hot tea.
You’re awaiting some of the brothers and sisters because you offered them a place for breakfast. Now you wish you hadn’t.
You hear sandals slapping the dry ground amidst a joyful chatter. And with it, the playful laughter of those children gets closer. The door opens and you see John and the others. Again, they are filled with joy.
But there’s one other. He walks in and says, “Ah, the familiar smell of freshly baked bread. A bread I’ve had before and that’s made by someone I know. He pulls back his hood and He looks into your eyes, smiles, and says, “Shalom, it’s so good to see you again, my brother.” You look into his eyes as they’re fixed on you, and you sense His focused attention. The attention that inspires and says, “you’re worthwhile to me,” and you immediately know your best friend has returned. That familiar safety of being in the presence of the One who pours forth love and not judgment has returned. Your throat tightens, tears well up, and now, now you share that joy unexplainable, and the tragedy of last weekend seems far and distant.
There is Good News to share. He is Risen, He is Risen Indeed!
Thanks for joining us on this journey back! Jesus continues to move people toward faith in His Gospel. While we aren’t as fortunate as those who witnessed Him first hand, may our faith be increased and strengthened knowing that Jesus called us, who wouldn’t see Him, blessed (John 20), and that He prayed for us on that fateful night in the Upper Room (John 17). For more on the incredible things Jesus told the disciples that night, that came true at Easter Sunday and continue to unfold today, spend some time in John chapters 13-17.
“The Ruler of this world is coming…He has no power over me.” – John 14
Written by Eloy Gonzalez, BHITC’s Manager of Ministry Engagement. To connect with Eloy, send him an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.