With a group of any size one must acknowledge that there are a spectrum of emotions and experiences present. So, where are you on that spectrum? In your life, are you excited about new possibilities before you? Are you feeling discouraged because things are not working out as you planned? Or, are you in mourning over lost possibilities? As you encounter the Easter story, where are you at?
Perhaps, you are feeling the Palm Sunday hopes that were present when Jesus entered Jerusalem. Mark 11 says, “Jesus was in the center of the procession, and the people all around him were shouting, Praise God! Blessings on the one who comes in the name of the LORD! Blessings on the coming Kingdom of our ancestor David! Praise God in highest heaven!” As Jesus entered Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, hopes were high. The crowds were stoked, because they believed that perhaps the political messiah they had hoped for was finally here. Maybe you feel this excitement today, and you are excited for the possibilities to come.
Hopes were high in Jerusalem, as Jesus entered the city, but as the week progressed, things changed. As the Apostles Creed states it so concisely, Jesus “suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried.” In other words, all those exciting possibilities did not work out. The hopes of the people were beat down when Jesus was suddenly hanging dead on a cross. Mark 15 says, “Joseph took Jesus body down from the cross, wrapped it in the cloth, and laid it in a tomb that had been carved out of the rock. Then he rolled a stone in front of the entrance. Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joseph saw where Jesus body was laid.” The hopes of the people were now laying dead in a tomb. Maybe you can relate to this; the exciting possibilities that were once before you have been beat down, and are now dead?
Perhaps you are carrying that weight of death with you, and so when new possibilities arise you are suspicious, like those who sought Jesus’ body on Easter morning. Mark 16 says, “Very early on Sunday morning, just at sunrise, [the women] went to the tomb. On the way they were asking each other, Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb? But as they arrived, they looked up and saw that the stone, which was very large, had already been rolled aside. When they entered the tomb, they saw a young man clothed in a white robe sitting on the right side. The women were shocked, but the angel said, Don’t be alarmed. You are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead! Look, this is where they laid his body. Now go and tell his disciples, including Peter, that Jesus is going ahead of you to Galilee. You will see him there, just as he told you before he died. The women fled from the tomb, trembling and bewildered, and they said nothing to anyone because they were too frightened.” Perhaps you can relate to the feelings that these women must have had that morning. They must have celebrated with the crowds on Palm Sunday, excited for the possibilities. But their hopes were beat down, and their savior killed. And now, they are told the story they thought was over is not done yet. The women were bewildered and frightened at the possibility that hope was perhaps still alive. Hope had suspiciously been re-awakened, but was not yet realized.
So where are you at as you read these words? Are you excited about new possibilities? Are you discouraged because things are not working out? Or, are you in mourning over lost possibilities? Where are you at? And what will you do with the truth of Easter morning? The truth is that “On the third day he rose again from the dead, that “He ascended to heaven and is now seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty?” Regardless of where you are at, the truth is that Jesus walked out of that grave. Hope is not dead. Hope lives. Our Savior is alive. So what will you do? And, how does this truth affect where you are at? Wherever you at, I encourage you to acknowledge where you are, take hold of the truth of Easter morning, and ask yourself that question? My prayer is that Jesus will surprise you, just as He did with His disciples when He appeared before them, alive and surely smiling, and said, “Peace be with you.”