The week of Easter is a week of stories, reactions and, at least for me, an emotional roller coaster. Each time I read one of the stories they send my mind and my heart into places that engender competing feelings. Some of these feelings are compassion for the suffering of Jesus. Some relate to feelings of understanding as the disciples make wrong choices.
On Palm Sunday I would love a Savior that rides in on a charger and sweeps evil from Jerusalem and even America (forgetting, of course, that if that happened in America, I would be part of that sweep). I would love to shout Hosanna and wave palm branches. And, of course, I would know better than to shout crucify Him later in the week. I would love to sit in the little room and have communion served by Jesus Himself, and would, unlike Peter, be proud for Jesus to wash my feet. I would try harder than the disciples to protect Jesus as He is betrayed in the garden of Gethsemane, and I would (for sure) not fall asleep like those other disciples. I would try to do something when Jesus is unjustly tried and would somehow find a way to help as Jesus is led to Golgotha. I would protest and make a scene when He is placed on the cross and would be up close (not at a distance like the crowds) as Jesus bled and died. My reactions would be led and fed by my faith and faithful following of Christ! At least, I would like to think this.
Truth be told, we react every day to Jesus, His life, His death and His resurrection. We express our willingness to listen and our desire to follow in how we treat other folks and how we love His Church He has given us. Our reactions are who we are as faithful followers of Christ.
That first Easter, at least in my reading of the story, Mary reacts in very human ways to the events. In John's account, she is startled by the open tomb. She is angry and fearful when they find the body gone. She grieves when she realizes that things have gone terribly wrong. She is terrified by the angel. She cries, maybe about all of these things. She is ready to converse with the gardener she meets outside of the tomb. She cries out in joy as she says "Rabbani!," recognizing Jesus. She listens as she is instructed to tell the disciples He is alive. Reactions express how we believe. And it is still an emotional roller coaster.
My favorite statement in the Easter story is a question about reactions from the angel outside the tomb. The angel, in Luke 24:5, asks, "Why are you looking for the living among the dead?" Why are they looking for a living Savior in the tomb!? Why do we look for a living Savior among what some say are "new" movements that are rehashed heresies? Why do we look for a living Savior inside our hearts that Scripture warns are 'deceitful (Jeremiah 17:9)?' We are, as the old Johnny Lee song (1980) said, "looking for love in all the wrong places!"
I hope this Easter we find Jesus doing and being exactly who and what He is. Singing praise in worship that is more than one Sunday a year! Loving folks in fellowship that gives us hope, love and support! Serving people (and therefore Jesus) by helping those in need (be sure to bring your Lenten offering for flood buckets)! Being people who edify and build up the Church, for Jesus left us here to be a blessing to the world! These things and places are where life happens. These places are where love reigns. Come and see! Randy