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On the Journey...
Monthly Insight From Pastor Phil Yoder
What Amazes Me About Easter
One of the most amazing parts of the Easter story for me, is that early on that first Easter morning, a man who was dead, (and everybody knew was dead because they saw his blood come pouring from his side when the soldier pierced his heart) came out of the tomb alive, but the world chose not to believe it, even when they knew it was true. The guards stationed at the tomb witnessed the appearance of angels, saw the empty tomb, but kept quiet because they were paid hush money. Okay, that doesn’t really surprise me, money trumps the truth for many people. That is nothing new. But the Chief Priests, who were Israel’s religious leaders, knew that Jesus had risen. They heard the testimony of the guards. They soon would be dealing with the radically transformed and emboldened disciples who came out of hiding and were now fearlessly preaching Jesus’ resurrection. If the Chief Priests could have proven that Jesus was still dead by producing a dead body, they most certainly would have done so. But these religious leaders, now in cahoots with the elders, chose to believe a lie, chose to live in deception and denial, and chose to promote a distorted religion, rather than acknowledge the truth and admit that they had been wrong about Jesus.
Early on that first Easter morning, the greatest news story ever to appear on the earth, the indescribable good news that death has been defeated, that death does not have the final word, passed by the world, and the world didn’t even notice. The world didn’t see it. The world didn’t want to see it! The world wanted to continue to have the power of death at its disposal.
On that first Easter Morning, at a cemetery just outside the city walls of Jerusalem, the strangest thing happened. A man who was dead and buried, became alive and went through solid stone as if it wasn’t even there, slipped by the Roman guards, guards who don’t miss anything, who had been stationed at his tomb, and they didn’t even see Him going. All evidence now points to a new reality, resurrection from the dead has just entered the world. And this resurrected body has powers nobody had ever imagined before. It seems like there is something of a new order, or a new creation that has broken into the world. But the world refused to believe it! When confronted with the truth, the reigning powers, both political and religious, denied it, they didn’t want to give up their power or their illusions that they were in control of the world.
When Jesus rose from the dead, He appeared only to believers. They were in shock, and they didn’t understand what was going on at first, but they dared to believe it, and trust that God was somehow in control of things. They were the only ones who had the audacity to believe the truth of the resurrection when it confronted them, and they were the only ones who were rewarded with seeing the Risen Lord, and catch a glimpse of a New Creation.
To my way of thinking, I would have thought Jesus would have wanted to appear to those who crucified Him to prove that He was right. But Jesus didn’t. He came to witness to the truth, to establish His Kingdom, and to give believers a glimpse of a New Creation. Those who chose not to believe when faced with the truth, would have chosen to continue in their unbelief, even if Jesus had appeared to them, and Jesus knew that.
The narrative of this world, since the day Satan entered in the garden to deceive Eve and Adam, has been to ignore the Word of God, to disbelieve the truth, and to choose to live in deception and distortion. And that has not changed. Jesus frequently used the phrase, “I tell you the truth” because He always spoke the truth.
Now, here is something else that amazes me. The church in western culture today, and heir of the good news of resurrection, finds itself too often drifting along with the world, flirting with the narrative of this world, and often embracing the popular agenda and the ways of the world, rather than clinging tenaciously to the cross, and to the one who came out of the tomb alive on Easter Morning.
Written by Phil Yoder