Wednesday, March 16, 2016
Hope from an empty tomb
I can't imagine how they felt. They would have felt sorrow at the death of their friend and Lord. They would have felt despair, confusion, depression, anger..... and probably even betrayal. They had such high hopes for this Messiah. They all thought He was going to set up His kingdom here, kick some Roman butt, and set Israel free from their oppressors..... and He had let Himself be captured and killed. This Man who had done so many miracles, had simply stepped forward and allowed Himself to be taken by the men who hated Him and wanted Him dead. And even worse, He had stopped them from defending Him and attacking those men.
And now their friend and Lord lay very dead in a borrowed tomb. The horror of watching Him crucified was bad, but I can't imagine afterwards. I doubt many of them slept much that night, if at all. And then morning came. If they had gotten any sleep, it would have all come rushing back. The arrest, the flogging, the mocking crowd, their cowardice and desertion, the crucifixion, and His last breath. I imagine they felt lower than low.
I have had some pretty low times in my life. There have been times I wondered what on earth God was trying to prove... or where on earth God even was. I doubted Him, I have been angry at Him. I've cried that it isn't fair. I've looked at my hopes and dreams lying shattered and dead in front of me, and wondered "why me? Does God hate me that much?"
But I don't think all of my troubles, my doubts and fears, my crushed dreams and hopes could compare to what the disciples were feeling.
And can I really fault them for their doubts and fears, for ignoring or forgetting what Jesus told them was going to happen? I do the same thing. God has promised He'd take care of me, and I panic at the next crisis and wonder if He'll come through......forgetting He always has. I've sat with the ashes of my dreams and wondered if He could possibly have a plan for my life after all that I'd done and all that had happened, totally forgetting the promises in His Word. I am as guilty of doubting Him, forgetting what He promised, not trusting Him, and whatever else they were guilty of, as they were.
But Sunday came for them. Jesus wasn't very dead in a hole in the rock anymore..... in fact, He wasn't dead at all. As someone has said, the stone wasn't rolled away so Jesus could get out - He didn't need it moved - it was rolled away to give hope and show Jesus' followers that He had risen as He had promised.
I have been in the place where hope was made new, rose out of the ashes, felt God's assurance that He has my back and He still has a plan for my life. But it can't compare to the hope that burst forth on that first Easter morning when that group of sad and depressed disciples found out that Jesus was now alive.
Any Christian can grasp that fact for ourselves, that we serve a risen Savior who took on our sins, died for our sins, and then rose again. We can never experience it like the disciples did, but we can get a glimpse of that every once in a while.. and not just at Easter.
As we enter this Easter season, I can honestly say I am closer to God than I have ever been. My mask is gone, I know I serve a Savior who loves me far more than I can ever grasp. I am daily amazed at His unending patience, mercy, and grace for me. He has been showing me things, helping me grow, letting me know I need to improve in this area or that, and forgiving me when I fail again at improving in an area...... and He is more real to me than ever. I have finally moved beyond head knowledge and truly gotten it in my heart.
So I am looking forward to Easter more this year than I usually do. No, I can't have much candy due to this diabetes diagnoses, but that isn't what it is all about. It is about a cross on a hill, a Savior who loved me enough to take my place on that cross, and it is about an empty hole in a rock that tried to hold this Jesus who loves me so much, but failed miserably and was emptied as that same Jesus rose again and walked out of that tomb.
There is no hope equal to the hope that comes from an empty tomb.