UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL
Easter Sunday is so amazing with the global pageantry of joy as the crucified Lord Jesus is raised in power from the dead to bring to completion the plan of God for our redemption and salvation.
Yet, I have to admit that after a long Lent and focus on inner work around the sacrifice of the Servant Savior, I felt a sense of loss that made it almost anti-climactic. Yes, Easter Sunday was wonderfully communal with the music, flowers, processions, and hallelujahs resounding with celebration, new clothes, good food, and family gatherings. But there was an adjustment, a shift in the closeness of having been drawn into the passion and purpose of the suffering and sacrifice of Jesus.
Thank God, that Easter isn’t just one day and done. The season of Eastertide, fifty days between Easter and Pentecost, begins with a focus on the post-resurrection appearances of Jesus to his followers. The overwhelmingly enormous miracle of Easter Sunday for all peoples of the world, opens the door to an up close and personal relationship with the risen Lord and the coming of the promised Holy Spirit.
The appearances of Jesus to his close friends and followers confirm the reality of his personal presence in their lives. Jesus gently dispels their fears and doubts, and offers them personal, peaceful and powerful presence. Take a closer look at the personal invitation and attention given to each of these four friends as Jesus appeared to them after the resurrection:
Mary Magdalene. Read the story in John 20:1-18. Mary was the first one at the tomb and she remained there after Peter and John had seen the empty tomb and returned back home. As she stood weeping, wondering where Jesus was, Jesus appeared to her and called her name, “Mary.” He had called her name many times before and she immediately knew his voice and was drawn back into their close and personal relationship. She told everyone: “I have seen the Lord.”
Thomas. Read the story in John 20:24-29. Thomas needed more than the appearance or voice of Jesus to recognize his Lord. Jesus didn’t judge or shame Thomas, but gave him the physical assurance of a new resurrected relationship, saying, “Touch me and see.” (Luke 24:39) Put your finger in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.
Peter and John. Read the story in John 21:1-14. John reports that the disciples have gone fishing, something familiar to break the stress of recent events. Jesus shows up on the shore, and even though they don’t recognize him, he guides them to a great haul of fish after a night after catching nothing. John is the first to recognize him shouting, “It is the Lord!” What was it that moved John to respond in great joy: the voice of his Master, the miracle, or the familiarity of seeing Jesus on the beach? Maybe distracted by the fishing, Peter is a bit slower to put it all together until his friend sounds out the recognition. Without a thought, Peter put his faith into action, and jumps into the water to swim to restored relationship with the Lord.
COME AND HAVE BREAKFAST. Then Jesus calls all of them to bring their catch of fish and “come and have breakfast.” John names those who were there: Thomas (yes of course, he touched the wounds of Christ), Nathanael from Cana (he must have drank the miracle wine), the sons of Zebedee (James and John the guys who wanted to sit at the right and left hand of Jesus), Peter, and two others. Jesus knew them all by name, and with his personal invitation to bring their days work to a close, and draw near, they recognized him, spending time over a meal, enjoying familiar time together on the shore.
Can you hear the shout of John: “It is the Lord,” the big splash from Peter jumping into the water, the gasp of faith from Thomas: “My Lord and my God,” and the announcement of joy from Mary hearing her name: “I have seen the Lord!”
REFLECT. Imagine yourself in the scene. You and your friends are exhausted from stress and overwhelming emotion. With great surprise you are able to successfully complete a project after hours of struggle. How does it feel when you look up from your troubles, your work, and recognize that the Lord has been with you, seeing you, helping you, and surprising you with his presence? What do you say or do in response? Notice how you feel in that moment. Sit with the peace and wonder of enjoying a meal together and being in the familiar place of Divine presence.
PRACTICE. After breakfast, Jesus had a hard talk with Peter, asking him “Do you love me?” and leading him into his calling saying, “Feed my sheep.” Maybe Jesus took each one aside to renew their commitment with these words: “Follow Me.” As Easter is not an end to the story but the beginning of our ministry in his name in the power of the Holy Spirit, what do you hear Jesus saying to you? Jump in! Go and do it!
One Comment Add yours
A good reflection Robbi. Thank you and happy Easter to you.