John 11:23-27 (ESV)
23 Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” 24 Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” 25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, 26 and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” 27 She said to him, “Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.”
Easter is a time that Christians reflect on the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. This ever important weekend for Christians may seem strange to those who have yet to believe, but for us this is what it is all about! But, why?
Jesus, hanging on the cross, cries out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me.” Remember for just a brief moment who is saying this. This is Jesus who is fully God and fully man. As he takes on the sins of the world, both yours and mine, he feels the separation from the Father and the Holy Spirit for the very first time.
And think about this from the perspective of the Father and the Holy Spirit. They were abandoning Jesus to “become sin.” They were literally having a portion of who they are ripped from themselves. The emotional pain for this triune family who had always known one another was excruciating. Yes, this is a paradoxical moment. God was literally beside himself, empty, and in pain.
How many of us can relate to this moment in time. Maybe not the crucifixion, but definitely the emotions of being separated from the ones we love. That separation can come in so many different forms. It could be their death. Or it could be their rejection through divorce, rebellion, or lack of forgiveness. Or perhaps it could be someone has lost themselves through addiction, mental illness, or choices that have removed them from the person they were, from their innocence.
All these were crucified with Jesus that day. All the pain of sin was laid on his shoulders; both the sins we committed and those done against us.. This is not to imply that we do not suffer the consequences of sinfulness this side of heaven. It does, however, ratify what truth has become.
Jesus was not left in the grave. Even as they removed his broken body from the cross, wrapped it in grave clothes and placed him in a tomb sealed with a stone, there was hope. Their hopelessness hung like a cloud over their heads, and many had suppressed the memories of Jesus’ goodness as he raised his friend, Lazarus, from the grave.
However, I have to believe Lazarus, Mary and Martha had even a deeper hope that remained. I have to believe their faith was strong as they reflected on Lazarus’ demise and the victory that Jesus brought them. I have to believe that they were encouraging the disciples and other followers that they understood where they were; their feelings of hopelessness, rejection, pain, and anger. The grief that overwhelms you to the point that you have no idea how to go on with life.
How easily do we as Christians lose sight of God’s goodness! We so easily forget the goodness of the cross. Jesus abandoned all and was abandoned for a brief moment in time, but he held to the promise of David that Peter repeated:
25 For David says concerning him,
“‘I saw the Lord always before me,
for he is at my right hand that I may not be shaken;
26 therefore my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced;
my flesh also will dwell in hope.
27 For you will not abandon my soul to Hades,
or let your Holy One see corruption.
28 You have made known to me the paths of life;
you will make me full of gladness with your presence.’
That last verse creates a picture for me that I believe we all must remember. Jesus, in this state of becoming sin and being crucified for all our transgressions, says his mangled, dying flesh dwells in hope! And he further says he is full of gladness with the presence of God.
How can he be forsaken, yet full of hope and gladness at the same time? Because of God’s presence! In my mind’s eye I see the Father filled with anticipation and the Holy Spirit moving all around Jesus waiting with equal anticipation to have all of this finished and to begin the new covenant of faith, hope and love with not just Jesus, the first born, but with all of us.
Did you catch that? This all important moment was for you. All of these mixed emotions, deep sorrowful pain and gladness were for you. You were worth it all!
Jesus is the resurrection and the life. The Father anticipated our arrival into his Kingdom. The Holy Spirit surrounds us with his presence, wooing us to the heart of God. And Jesus, the life giver himself, threw the doors of his Kingdom open, inviting all who will to come.
It is this blessed hope we can hold onto in this life. The blessed hope that fills the depths of our souls, wooing us with everlasting love, healing the pain, bringing light into the darkness, making our crooked paths straight and smooth.
The resurrection and the life rose from the dead! He is risen!
Come, Holy Spirit!